Perhaps you’ve heard of the Silver Tsunami, the Age Wave that is sweeping the world? It’s now a controversial term because it implies older people will overwhelm society with their numbers and their needs. Perhaps it encourages fear of aging and disrespect for the elderly—ageism. By whatever name we call it, however, we are in the middle of enormous growth in the older population. This growth parallels the rise in the number of grandparents nationally and globally.
What if we thought of aging instead as a bonfire instead of a tsunami? Bonfires are carefully designed to be both explosive in growth, contained in size, productive of heat, and useful to the very end. All those images can apply to aging. It’s a sweet thought. Especially when marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey bars join the scene! My sister’s farm gave our family some recent experience:
Whatever the metaphor, here is the reality:
- every day 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65
- by 2030, all the baby boomers will be 65
- life expectancy after age 65 has doubled. If you reach 65, on average, you will live another 20 years
- baby boomers are projected to have 70% of all U.S. disposable income over the next five years
- baby boomers will inherit about $15 trillion in the next 20 years
- 59% of baby boomers who are parents are financially supporting their children ages 18-39
- there are 76 million grandparents in the U.S. today, the most ever
- Of the world’s 7.6 billion people, a record-breaking 1.4 billion, or 18 percent, are grandparents
- The average age of becoming a grandparent is around 47
- The average age of grandparents is around 64
- The average grandparent has six grandchildren
- According to an AARP survey, grandparents spend an average of $2,562 on their grandkids each year
- An estimated 2.7 million children lived with grandparents as their primary caregivers in 2020
What a force! That’s a pretty mighty bonfire, don’t you think?
Since co-writing The Mindful Grandparent, I have spent even more time, not less, researching resources online for grandparents. These are exciting times!
Grandparenting today is where parenting was 50 or 60 years ago—there are few books and resources available to give us the answers and ideas we need. And yet many of us will be grandparents for three or four decades—more than twice as much time as we had while parenting a child in our home! And becoming an effective proactive grandparent is not easy. We have to learn how to communicate with a new generation of kids, and we have to learn to teach and to give to them in ways that do not bypass or step on the toes of the parents.
–Richard and Linda Eyres
Grandparenting 101 Class
Two of the pioneer educators in this emerging field are Linda and Richard Eyres. You may have seen one of their suggestions in Chapter 38 of my book. The Eyres are in the process of launching a new digital initiative called Grandparenting 101. The course has a “pay what you can” fee structure. I decided to sign up for the six lessons that will give me access to the many resources the Eyres have accumulated in their decades of teaching parenting, values, and now grandparenting skills. They have a podcast also.
In some ways this magazine is the “grandmother of them all.” I learned about most of these other resources by first discovering this FREE magazine with its beautiful layout, features with celebrity grandparents and grandparenting experts. You will discover many other resources here. Christine Crosby is the editor.
The Grand Life Podcast
Emily Morgan and her husband Mike have created a high-quality podcast, and Emily has interviewed many of the outstanding leaders in the fields of aging and grandparenting. You can find three years’ worth of podcasts at this website.
Go there soon because Emily has ended the podcast for now. While she and Mike decide what is next for them, you can subscribe and listen to all these wonderful interviews.
Adventures with Grammy Podcast
Carolyn Berry covers a wide variety of topics on her podcast. I particularly liked a recent episode on what grandparents can do about gun violence.
More Than Grand
Here’s a website with special features for new grandparents, a blog, book reviews, and more. Run by former communication consultant DeeDee Moore.