The nation’s aging population is seen as the country’s burden by some social commentators. But for many — including a large number of the same baby boomer generation that has been the object of much hand-wringing — the shifting age demographic is seen as a business opportunity.
Between those who are just entering their retirement years and those older seniors who need additional services, new professions and job opportunities are created every day. The New York Times Kerry Hannon, in a story posted on cnbc.com March 10, reported that for many retirees not yet ready for days filled with fishing, golf or crafting, a second career as a self-employed service provider for older seniors is a growing and lucrative option.
Hannon writes that labor statistics show demand for dietitians, nutritionists, massage therapists, drivers, handymen, and cooks who prepare meals for homebound elderly is already high, and will increase as boomers age. She cited a Pew Research Center projection that by 2050, the nation’s population of people 65 and older will more than more than double, to 86 million from 41 million in 2010.
Ready to meet that demand are those among armies of workers who are hitting their late 50s or early 60s but are not yet ready to think about leaving the workforce.
Kevin E. Cahill, an economist at Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging and Work, told Hannon, “It’s no secret that retirement is a very diverse process for older Americans, with some combination of phased retirement and bridge jobs being the norm among older career workers.”
“About 60 percent of the career workers take on a part-time job after exiting their main career,” Mr. Cahill said. “And many older Americans not only change occupations, but in large numbers they also transition from wage-and-salary employment into self-employment.”
According to Hannon, providing any service that will help someone stay in their home and avoid an assisted living facility will be among the high-potential niche opportunities. Among those second-life career providers are home modification contractors called aging-in-place specialists who are certified to create a home more accessible to their senior owners; financial planners who show retirees how to make their money last; and travel advisers, who help seniors learn to manage public transportation use when they can no longer drive.
Hannon, Kerry. “Aging Population Sees Opportunity in Small Business;” The New York Times. March 10, 2014.