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How California's aging population is its greatest natural resource

How California's aging population is its greatest natural resource
  (Cameron Cottrill / For The Times)

To the editor: The Oct. 7 article on California’s aging population focuses welcome attention on the needs of this fast-growing demographic. However, there is temptation to concentrate only on the negatives when there is another side to the story.

Older Californians are valuable — our only growing natural resource — with the potential to make our communities better. Any discussion of higher healthcare costs should also acknowledge the economic contribution of these people. Consumers 60 or older are expected to account for at least 40% of U.S. consumption growth through 2030.

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Older adults make up an under-utilized talent pool that can fill jobs, mentor youth and volunteer. The city and county of Los Angeles offer one example of how to make this positive vision a reality.

Purposeful Aging Los Angeles is a major public initiative to address the needs of this region’s older residents. Every agency in the city and county is on board and focused on understanding and serving a population that will look much older in the years ahead.

In California, we’ve adapted to changing populations before. Now, it’s time for leaders to acknowledge the realities, embrace change and advance smart policies to improve the lives of today’s older adults and build a better future for generations to come.

Paul H. Irving, Santa Monica

The writer is chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.

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