Q:I AM reaching retirement age and see my coworkers being put out to pasture. I think it's a shame for businesses to force older Americans into retirement and waste all that experience.

A: Agreed. In 2006, the oldest of the baby boomers — just a few years younger than the already-65 contingent — turned 60. And guess who's turning 65 in 2007? Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford, Annette Funicello, Martin Scorsese, Aretha Franklin and Calvin Klein, to name a few. So what's next for these 60-somethings?

You might think the answer is "retirement." But it ain't necessarily so. There's a wave coming — and while it's not a tsunami, it's a major event in its own right.

The wave is the huge number of Americans who are expected to begin retiring from the workforce this year and continue for the next 20 years. The ramifications of this demographic sea change are huge. Since boomers represent more than a quarter of the U.S. population, who will fill these retirement vacancies?

And lots of folks these days can't afford to retire; they are still putting kids through college and perhaps helping to care for elderly parents, as our NextSteps letters and e-mails tell us.

So, why should we let all the experience and expertise of the boomer generation go to waste on the golf course?

Why not instead harness this "senior power," says former Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, who helped launch the Peace Corps 46 years ago.

Wofford, 80, is the national spokesman for the new "Experience Wave" campaign that would establish the infrastructure needed to keep older Americans in the work force, plan for an older work force, connect and work cooperatively with businesses, and set up an infrastructure to promote volunteerism and mentoring. A package of proposals to make all of this a reality was introduced in the New York legislature Feb. 27.

"Baby boomers have been a defining generation in America," says Wofford. "As they age,

they are redefining the idea of retirement."

Jan Warner is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and has been practicing law for more than 30 years. Jan Collins is editor of the Business and Economic Review published by the University of South Carolina and a special correspondent for The Economist. You can learn more information about elder care law and write to the authors on http://www.nextsteps.net.