When I posted about becoming an “old person in training,” I was talking the talk. Participants in a three-hour sensitivity training program called Xtreme Aging are walking the walk. Handicapped by glasses that blur vision, cotton that blocks hearing, and gloves that impair dexterity, they find out how hard it can be to carry out routine tasks like dialing a cell phone or fishing change from a purse.
Not only would working longer keep people healthier and happier, it would ease the strain on Social Security and Medicare, boost our sagging economy, and improve the standards of living of millions of Americans. We’re not talking about octogenarians hanging in there, just about adding a few more years to the current average retirement age (63 for men, 62 for women). Yet widespread ageism across the job spectrum makes this scenario unlikely.