The Age of Dignity

Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America

One of Time’s 100 most influential people shows how we can “work together to ensure that all people can mature in this country with dignity, security and independence” (Tavis Smiley)

“Every American should read this slender book. With luck, it will be the future for all of us.” —Gloria Steinem

In The Age of Dignity, thought leader and activist Ai-jen Poo offers a wake-up call about the demographic reality that will affect us all. “We have more senior citizens in America today than we’ve had at any time in our history,” Poo writes, pointing out that more than 14 percent of our population is now over sixty-five; by 2030 that ratio will be one in five. In fact, our fastest-growing demographic is the eighty-five-plus age group—over 5 million people now, a number that is expected to more than double in the next twenty years. This change presents us with a new challenge: how we care for and support quality of life for the unprecedented numbers of older Americans who will need it.

Despite these daunting numbers, Poo has written a profoundly hopeful book, giving us a glimpse into the stories and often hidden experiences of the people—family caregivers, older people, and home care workers—whose lives will be directly shaped and reshaped in this moment of demographic change. The Age of Dignity outlines a road map for how we can become a more caring nation, providing solutions for fixing our fraying safety net while also increasing opportunities for women, immigrants, and the unemployed in our workforce. As Poo has said, “Care is the strategy and the solution toward a better future for all of us.”


“Ai-jen understands as well as anyone that the nature of work is changing. She is one of the smartest and most empathetic advocates in America, and The Age of Dignity has the solutions we need to ensure that workers of any age have the independence and dignity they deserve.”
—Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director, Freelancers Union
“A powerful call for a Care Revolution in America—to transform the quality of life of the aging, the infirm, and the sick and to recognize, value, and lift those who so generously take care of them.”
—Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues
“Positive and inclusive.”
The New York Times
“A big-hearted book [that] seeks to transform our dismal view of aging and caregiving.”
Ms. Magazine
“Ai-jen Poo not only offers us an inspiring vision of a future in which care is valued but also lays out the practical steps to get us there. This book brings us closer to a world based on interdependence, collaboration, and love.”
—Jennifer Buffett, co-president, NoVo Foundation
“Ai-jen Poo’s The Age of Dignity is about solutions. Filled with the stories of the people and relationships that make America great, it offers a unique perspective on our changing nation and the way forward. Don’t miss this book.”
—Van Jones, New York Times bestselling author of Rebuild the Dream
“People getting older is not a crisis, it’s a blessing. That is the message of The Age of Dignity, an urgent and irresistible book by Ai-jen Poo. To benefit from this blessing of experience that comes with longer life expectancy, we’ll need more well-paid and expert home care workers. In just the next four years, that demand will increase by more than 90 percent. This gives you some idea why every American should read this slender book. With luck, it will be the future for all of us.”
—Gloria Steinem
“Within the next twenty-five years, tens of millions of baby boomers are going to become frail and need long-term services and supports. How will we live? Who will care for us? In The Age of Dignity, Ai-jen Poo presents a bold and inspiring vision for the future—one that can unite caregivers, older adults and their families, advocates, and policy makers to join forces to address the extraordinary care challenge that is clearly coming.”
—Jim Firman, president and CEO, National Council on Aging
“Ai-jen Poo is among our most compelling social movement leaders. In The Age of Dignity, a most thoughtful and readable book, she invites us to join arms and reshape our economy and our culture.”
—Ambassador Swanee Hunt, chair of Hunt Alternatives and Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
“This can-do book by an activist . . . has a lot to say to anyone who plans on getting old.”
Kirkus Reviews
“This book is a starter for conversations that are long overdue. If you are someone’s child, a spouse, or concerned about yourself someday, The Age of Dignity will give you food for thought.”
The Philadelphia Tribune
“Joining a storyteller’s ear to an organizer’s spirit, Ai-jen Poo offers a practical guide to creating a more caring America that is more prosperous and just—for immigrant women hired to care no less than elder boomers in need.”
—Eileen Boris, co-author of Caring for America and Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Ai-jen Poo’s first book shines a new light on the need for a holistic approach to caregiving in America. A timely and hopeful book, The Age of Dignity holds solutions that lift all boats—strengthening our families, the workforce that supports us, and the nation as a whole.”
—Maria Shriver
“Everyone who has met Ai-jen Poo has been taken by her compelling combination of head and heart, of clear analysis and soulful compassion. The Age of Dignity captures that mix and is a must-read for anyone concerned about the emerging intersections of family life, labor markets, and public policy.”
—Manuel Pastor, director, Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), University of Southern California

News and Reviews

The Tavis Smiley Show

Ai-jen Poo discusses her new book, highlighting "the systems and attitudes that we must adopt in order to get ready for the demographic and economic changes that are fast approaching."

Truth-out's Eleanor J. Bader interviews Ai-Jen Poo about the US's rapidly aging population.

The New York Times Review of Books

The New York Times Review of Books reviews Ai-Jen Poo's The Age of Dignity


Feministing reviews The Age of Dignity, calling it "another way to amplify the efforts and successes of today’s movement for dignity and protections for all domestic workers."