“The sun will come up tomorrow,” so says the popular song refrain from the 1982 musical, “Annie.”
“That was yesterday's news,” so says the conventional wisdom of baby boomers today.
The sand from the hour glass reveals the topic for this column, which is about the elephant in the room: baby boomers aging. The generation that once said, “Don't trust anyone over 30,” has now reached a stage of life that they had previously viewed others in as “old.”
What happened baby boomers? How did we go from the college dorm room to the brochure for assisted living? How did we go from the career on the rise to planning for our Social Security benefits? How did we go from listening to the Eagles to mourning the death of Glenn Frey? Baby boomers have discovered that life does indeed have different stages, and that you can't be young forever.
But this is not the beginning of a discussion about baby boomers starting a downward trend in life. Let me remind my fellow boomers that we are not our grandparents’ grandparent. This topic brings to mind the case of one who is now living in Arizona. He recently moved from Chicago to his new home in an “over-55” community, and has confided to me that he is now having “the time of his life."
He plays in a softball league, and he has a great group of friends that play golf and enjoy lunch together afterwards. This baby boomer and his wife walk every day and they have a certain youthful appearance brought about by an active lifestyle.
Or take another example, the baby boomer in Ohio who has joined the athletic center at his alma mater, Ohio State University. This baby boomer will rise early and hit the pool. He is a great swimmer, and his routine of swimming followed by coffee with his old college buddies invigorates him both physically and mentally. As a result, he has a very positive outlook on the life yet ahead of him.
Are these two baby boomers the norm? Well the jury is still out, for there is an ongoing controversy in the media regarding this subject, perhaps due to the great contrast between two very different lifestyles that have been ascribed to baby boomers: the baby boomer of health and wellness (illustrated by our two previous examples) versus the baby boomer who has bonded with his couch and clicker.
Does the exercise plan of the baby boomer have a direct impact on the attitudes of baby boomers on the aging process? The answer seems to be yes. The baby boomers who are more active generally do not seem to worry as much about growing old compared to the boomers who sit around more and tend to think that life has passed them by.
However, this as simple as it may seem, for many things are playing out in the lives of baby boomers in 2016. The three critical components affecting baby boomers’ activity levels and views on aging seem to be stress, economic conditions, and health. Stress can be in many forms for the baby boomer. Caring for aging parents can be one form of stress.
Not having enough savings can make baby boomers fear their future and place undue burden on their economic well-being. And then there is the impact of their own health, which can be in the form an actual sickness, or the worry about a large insurance premium.
So are baby boomers really afraid of aging? Some are, but it really has to do with your support system, your family, your lifestyle or routine, and your network of friends. It is apparent though that baby boomers who are taking care of themselves, eating right, getting exercise, and finding good ways to spend their time are likely to be happier and healthier. They are the boomers who are seem less concerned about what they “can't do,” for they are still “doing.”
Once upon a time, as college students in a dorm room, baby boomers were optimistic. They had a positive attitude, and looked at life with rose colored glasses.
They were happy then, not just because they were young, but because they had some spirit. Guess what, baby boomers? Many baby boomers still have such a spirit; whether it be at age 16 or 66, baby boomers might in fact be "forever young" after all.
Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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