Narrator: As the nation braces for the ‘silver tsunami' - that is, meeting the retirement needs of 78 million Baby Boomers - social welfare expert Andrew Scharlach of the University of California, Berkeley says communities are beginning to ask questions.
Scharlach: We've managed to create our communities in a way that really is what we call Peter Pan environments. Environments for people who never grow old. And if you think about the dependence that we have on the automobile. If you think about the living environments, where we have to go up and down stairs, where we have to negotiate long distances and the like, they're really not designed for people as they grow old. Communities around this country are just beginning to ask - are we prepared for the aging of the baby boomers? Do we have in place the kinds of supports, the kinds of infrastructure that we need - not just for now, but for the future? And in asking those questions, we're beginning to identify answers. I first got interested in aging quite by accident. A friend of mine asked me to help him out at a nursing home. I thought it would only be for three months and it turned out to be the rest of my career. I talked to older adults and got interested in their experiences and realized that someday I, and the rest of us, will get old and wanted to do something about that.
Narrator: Scharlach recently launched the first-ever online conference with participants spanning 14 countries to discuss creating aging-friendly communities.
On-Screen: Retirees in community home, singing. Fade to black.
To find out more about aging and the ways the University of California is addressing age-related issues, please visit UC Irvine's comprehensive website on this topic: http://www.uci.edu/aging