by Bryan Shadden
Take a look around
and you'll see it: California's getting noticeably grayer, with between
4 and a half and 5 million people who are over the age of 65.
While we already
have more seniors than ever, consider today's numbers the spark in an
imminent aging explosion. Demographers tell us that in California, in
2020, that number will be 9 million.
is an understatement. Baby Boomers will provide the bulk in the largest
retirement bulge in American history. In the next 50 years, California's
senior population will increase more than 230%.
But what do the
numbers really mean? Will a trip to the links be the new tough ticket?
but the real fear is that the demographic trend could
break the national bank. The volunteer state president for the AARP,
Helen Russ, has heard the fears about the difficulty of funding social
security and pensions.
And the headlines
support the fear. The Bee's David Westphal argues that, "Medicare
looms as the principle threat to the federal government's fiscal stability
when the 76 million Baby Boomers begin retiring." On the surface,
that fiscal forecast looks grim, but seniors are responding with what
could be a silver lining: they're volunteering.
Although fully retired,
Bill Seidman is donating time to a community he loves.
As a volunteer with
the Stockton Police Department's VIPS -- or Volunteers in Police Service
-- Bill is saving Stockton some serious money. Consider just some of
the work VIPS do each day, from wellness calls to the elderly to school
checks -- and in Bill's case, he's helping Stockton with some urban
And on this day,
volunteering even had a sense of excitement when Bill spotted someone
in a house that should have been empty. A false alarm this time, but
minutes later, Bill did find someone's stolen car.
As the leader of
Sacramento's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Laureen Anderson
says volunteerism ultimately benefits everyone's wallets. She says that
we would have to pay $16.54 for every hour that a volunteer volunteers.
But when it comes
to volunteering, there are just some things you can't put a price tag
on. Even an injured leg can't keep Jesse Diaz from his mission. Each
week, Jesse pays a visit to Darrell Button through a program called
peer counseling. The goal: substituting loneliness with friendship.
Will the next generation
of retirees share Jesse and Bill's sense of duty? After all, the Baby
Boomers have some experience with social causes
So could the aging
boom yield a "Golden Age" of volunteering, where money is
saved and communities are strengthened? Or will the costs of an older
society be too much to bear? The State Director of Aging sees the scales
tipping to the positive...