More Americans Are Living Longer. Here’s a Place That Helps People Thrive

June 24, 2024 | Source: NPR News | by Allison Aubrey

The number of people hitting the traditional retirement age is surging in the U.S. Every day across the country about 11,000 people turn 65.

As many look forward to a new phase of life after retiring from their day jobs, there’s a need to reimagine places and spaces for people to thrive.

That’s what Wallis Annenberg is aiming to do. The 84-year-old CEO and president of the Annenberg Foundation wants to change the conversation on aging, and she envisioned a space where older people would gather to grow and learn.

Her vision was shaped by observations that troubled her. “I noticed older Americans sitting by themselves in restaurants, in movie theaters, in parks, in the middle of the day, and I’d think how sad,” Annenberg says. Too many people seemed cut off from society.

“It’s just wrong that old age has become a time of social isolation, and I want to work to change that,” she says.

Her vision has become a reality with GenSpace, a new kind of senior center in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, where people from all walks of life and backgrounds come to meet, take classes and share their skills, passions and personal journeys with each other.