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Welcome, old people

BY MICHAEL DAVIS | OCTOBER 14, 2009 7:20 AM

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What happens when Generation Y bumps and grinds right alongside the baby-boomer generation?

New statistics show that these strong doses of Geritol and Viagra give you Johnson County and Iowa City.

In the last nine years, the number of those aged 50 and over has jumped from 22,338 to 31,693, according to the Iowa Data Center. The median age of Johnson County residents has increased from 28.4 to nearly 31.

Some might say these new facts call into question our reputation for being a youthful and vibrant city. Might it be that this new-found love affair with Grandpa and Grandma helps to jettison our young graduates off to brighter (and less wrinkly) pastures?

My guess is that Iowa winters have more to do with that trend. But for the development of our city, let’s hope this trend continues for the foreseeable future.

Realistically, as Iowa becomes more and more senior-citizen-friendly, our economy will only benefit. Being able to bring in older populations will help the local economy with an injection of just-retired men and women looking to relax —and spend — in the later years of their lives.

This will not only benefit us as a community but will also strengthen the lives of each of these individuals. The cultural and social vibrancy of our area will ignite a spark in their old souls and create a happier group of people.

Happier equals healthier, which means longer life spans that support the economic power of our community. And when they do need medical care, the UI Hospitals and Clinics and Mercy Medical Center will be there.

Beyond the economic benefits, inviting more and more seniors to our oasis in the corn will provide a much-needed lift to election participation, while simultaneously reducing crime. Both of these elements are widely considered results of an engaged and independent senior class.

In presuming that Iowa City could increase its AARP segment, one must first understand that Iowa City is deficient in some positive criteria for older citizens.

We must recognize that as much as we enjoy a youthful exuberance from our students, certain highly visible gray areas linger in our fair city.

Although widely popular among our age group, the downtown bar scene has become a plague and has decreased resources. This has resulted in increased violence and criminal activity in other areas of our city. This glaring weakness does not bode well for encouraging Ma and Pa Kettle from shuffling on down to good ol’ IC.

An increase in senior-centered businesses would also provide a much needed lift to our local economy. Heaven knows Grandpa and Grandma love to spoil their grandchildren. Giving them nice shops downtown in which to spend their tirelessly earned cash will not only accomplish that mission, but will also provide one less drinking establishment for our young brethren.

And from the apocalyptic look of downtown after Oct. 10, we could use some diversity in our small world of commerce.

The previous thought is tired and rusty sentiment, much like the bones of the older generation we hope will spread their canes and walkers across Iowa City streets. But as tiresome as it is to speak about, it’s still relevant if only for the fact that we have not solved the problem. Bringing in a stable older group of citizens will surely alleviate a percentage of our day-to-day concerns.

Due to this possibility, I am extending an open invitation to all old, semi-old, or old-looking Americans to hop in your campers and travel to our small metropolis. Maybe you can bring a much-needed level of respectability to our town, just before you check out to the big retirement home in the sky.


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