by Stephen W. Golant
“It is fair to surmise that the 100,000 young people in their late teens and twenties who converged in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to participate in the 1967 Summer of Love were not especially tuned in to how their grandparents were coping with getting old. It is even less likely that these young baby boomers thought much about their own old age. This socially rebellious group, which rejected middle-class values and parental controls, and who romanticized communal living, could hardly imagine that in their old age they would end up living in cul-de-sac suburbs and traveling in their cars to regional malls to buy furnishings for their single-family detached dwellings.
“With their anti-government sentiments, they could hardly have foreseen how important Social Security and Medicare would become for their future health and financial well-being. Yet perhaps they were well-advised not to look to their grandparents as exemplars on how to live in old age. If they had been aware in the late 1960s of the challenges of dealing with old age, they may well have carried signs calling for ‘no more nursing homes for the old.’
“Fast forward five decades, and these now aging baby boomers are still showing their independent spirits. They are opting to age in place for as long as possible, even as these residential decisions clash with the opinions of many experts who argue that the baby boomers’ current dwellings are designed for the young and are unequipped to accommodate those individuals who suffer from physical and activity limitations, chronic health problems, and social losses.”