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Retirement is Out, the Active Adult Lifestyle is In

Updated on July 2, 2016

Blame it on the boomer generation if you want, but you must accept that the old notion of retirement has given way to the era of the active adult. Most adults would like a retired life of ease and prosperity. They are no longer willing to work for 80% of their life, for a less than certain shot at a life of splendor and ease awaits them for the last 20% of their allotted days on earth.

The retirement paradigm

The old model of adult life said that you work for x years, typically until you are 65 years old. Then you retire. If you do it correctly, you will save enough during your working years to live comfortably with social security and your pension from your job and your lifetime of savings to provide that level of comfort.That model governed many people's thinking through the 20th century.

Oops, it turns out that the model may have been faulty.

  • Some people followed the plan successfully and retired. They looked around and said, "now what?"
  • Many people lived lives of denial and kept putting off satisfaction until that magic period of retirement would allow them to stop working and then and only then, enjoy life.
  • Many people got to the magic point only to find them self physically or financially incapable of living the good life.
  • For some, retirement was just the next to last step. Move into retirement and then die.
  • For some, the plan got derailed by changes in business practices. The pension they counted on didn't exist when needed most.
  • Health care may not be a God given right, but it sure isn't cheap. For many seniors, the funds available for pleasure, have to be diverted to medical care at some time, and often too soon.
  • The last economic downturn, not only trashed retirement funds, it made working, sometimes two jobs, a requirement for many. Dual wage earners are the norm. For too many, it took away their jobs and their retirement funds.

The classic retirement model stopped looking like a good plan years ago. It seems that pleasure delayed, may be pleasure denied.

A new model for senior life was required

The old model didn't really work, a paradigm shift was needed. If you couldn't rely on a magic period of retirement, you needed to redefine retirement. If you couldn't be sure that your savings would be sufficient, you needed a plan that could include working. This raised some good questions for those approaching senior status:

  • Why do I have to wait to do some of those fun retirement things?
  • My health is good now; how can I keep healthy and avoid the "retire to die" syndrome?
  • Why do I have to quit working?
  • Can I combine some work and some play?

Enter the active adult and the active adult lifestyle.


Active adult fitness centers...
Active adult fitness centers...

The active adult lifestyle

For years, the economic and social impact of the boomers was forecast and debated. What will happen when all those war year babies click into retirement mode. Well the boomers have blossomed into active adults. The new retirement model turns the negatives of the old model into, if not positives, at least into workarounds.

  • "I can't quit working", becomes "why can't I continue to work? maybe not as much..."
  • Waiting for retirement at 65 or 70 to move, becomes "I'm looking for a place to live an active adult lifestyle, while I'm still working..."
  • I may not ever be able to fully retire, becomes "I'm semi retiring now, and we'll see how it plays out..."
  • Wait till you retire, becomes "I want the good life now.."

What does retirement mean to you and your family?

Which of these choices fits you or a parent best?

See results

What do boomers want?

The boomers have been studied and surveyed for years. They have different priorities than their parents did. Boomers know what they want to do and where they want to live:

  • Fitness Centers are required. Wellness and fitness are important to boomers who want to start living the good life now, and keep on living it for a long, long time.
  • Walking trails are high on the list. Jogging has been replaced by hiking and brisk walks in pleasant surroundings.
  • Security is important in a new active adult community. They want a relief from the drama of the evening news. Walls and gates do make for good neighbors in the right communities.
  • Convenience - they want all their amenities close by, from groceries to golf, from doctors to dining, from movies to malls they want it all within 20 minutes.
  • Social outlets - they might not be able to afford to do it every day, but they do want to be able to explore their cultural and social sides.
  • Personalized activities - Boomers move into their senior years with a wide variety of interests, so the community that appeals to them will offer variety above all.
  • Golf and shuffleboard are still enjoyed by many, just not as many as before. Boomers might prefer walking or running around the golf course to following the little white ball.

Boomers want options and they are on the move.They are called active adults for a reason.



What is your picture of life's endgame?

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Is there an active adult in your life?

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    • BizVT34 profile image

      BizVT34 5 years ago from USA

      Nice Hub! We're seeing more and more people who "retire" to small business ownership. Often with other family members and kids as partners. It had been very successful for those who do it the right way.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

      I love this article. I just recently retired, but I don't call it that, I call it rewired as I am an active adult. I also recently got a part-time job just to stay active, meet new people, and work with the public. It is part-time so it doesn't cut into my beach time (the Naples, FL beaches are just too beautiful) or walking time. I'm into hiking, also, but do that more up north than in flat, flat Florida. I prefer rewired to retired as I'm certainly not sitting around waiting for anything!

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      2 sirrot, the word retire is a charged word that carries the old connotation, of what we used to think of as the senior years. Most people over 60 relate better to "active adult" than retired. The times have changed!

    • surf traveler profile image

      surf traveler 7 years ago

      Dardia, you're teacher had it 100% correct.

      Good hub jstan.

    • Dardia profile image

      Darlene Yager 7 years ago from Michigan

      Nice hub. I had a teacher in high school who thought that kids should not go to college right out of high school but should work for awhile. This would help them appreciate college. Then in their late 20's go to college. The 30's and early 40's was for travel and getting all the excitement out of their systems. So that when they wanted a slower life of work and purpose they would be ready for it.

    • retirementvillage profile image

      retirementvillage 7 years ago from Philippines

      jstankevicz, I like your hub its really has something to do with our retirement and lifestyle...very informative...!

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      jill of alltrades, you sure sound like an active adult to me!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      I retired 2 years ago from being a full time professor. Now, I'm having the time of my life pursuing things that "make my heart sing" as I told my friends. Photography, writing and other activities keep me busy. Never a dull moment here!

      Thanks for this hub jstankevicz!

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      scheng1, the process of raising children has seemed to change with each generation in the last century. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      scheng1 7 years ago

      My grandparents took care of us after their retirement, so they did not feel bored or empty. Now hardly anyone takes care of grandkids.

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      agvulpes, yes, these are great times. "Retirement" and "active adult" are a state of mind, rather than an age event.

      Springboard, "a very important Hub", wow do I like my stuff being called important, you can definitly hang around.

      Thanks for commenting guys!

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      It's a very important hub in that it reminds, though subtelely, the importance of the younger generation saving more. Early retirement can be a nice accomplishment, and like you said, retirement doesn't mean the end. It's basically a new beginning. A new adventure. Besides, more people leaving the workforce a little earlier means more room for new workers to get in and get started.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 7 years ago from Australia

      jstankevicz , mate you certainly have finally got it lol.

      I retired about 7 years ago and I am so busy now that I doubt if I would have time to go to work.

      My wife and I are definitely catching up on the things we missed out on doing while we were working and raising a family.

      Great Hub and its great to see so many Grey Power people with positive attitudes :-)

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      msorensson agree that work is good in that it gives a purpose, goals and opportunity for social interaction. Some people have trouble filling their days and could waste away in an idle retirement. thanks for dropping in and commenting.

    • jstankevicz profile image
      Author

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      dahoglund, I semi-retired years ago and drifted into this lifestyle. Does that make us pioneers?

      DiamondRN, enjoy the heck out of it!

      Adult Communities AZ, thanks for stopping by.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Work is always good. It engages you with people in so many ways, instead of sitting in front of the tele..

      Of course the ideal is you have a spouse whom you love so much like "On Golden Pond" that the two of you can spend time with each other and not get bored.

      Thank you. I enjoyed this hub.

    • profile image

      Adult Communities AZ 7 years ago

      Thanks for the interesting and informative post. I look forward to more in the future.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Check. Check. Check. We're doing it!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I retired before the times went bad but it doesn't allow a high life style. I've been through some of the things people are facing today and I don't envy them.