Baby Boomers Take on Retirement
“Growing old but not retiring,
For the battle still is on;
Going on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won.” —Anonymous
Baby boomers have taken on retirement with the same gusto that they faced every one of life’s challenges. The old notion of retirement is gone. The baby boomer generation has changed the way that we, as Americans, look at the notion of retirement. Welcome to the new era of retirement, featuring the active adult and an active lifestyle. A retired life of ease and prosperity is the goal of most Americans, but are now, no longer willing to settle for the idea that they must work for 80% of their life for only the possibility of enjoying the last 20% of their life and retirement.
We grew up believing that if we worked for so many years until we were 65 years old we could retire and finally do all the things we wanted to do. If we worked hard enough, if we saved enough during our working years we could retire and live comfortably for the rest of our lives, using Social Security, pension plans, savings and investments to reach the ultimate goal of financial security. This model was packaged as part of the American dream. We all fell for it. We all believed it. But we didn’t all receive it.
What many failed to do, was to figure in all of the ‘what ifs’ that life surprises us with.
For so many Americans, the work ethic, which they were raised on, encouraged them to work, work, work, all the while, denying themselves the extras and to wait for that promised reward of living the good life. It sounded like a good plan for everyone. Some who followed the plan, retired, and said ‘now what?’ Others may have tried to follow the plan until that plan got derailed.
Changes in business practices, disappearing pension plans and investment losses have adversely affected the retirement dreams of a great percentage of Americans. The health care issues of seniors today may now threaten their retirement dreams while adding to the overall costs to insurance companies and to Medicare. Diverting retirement funds, intended for enjoyment and recreation, to pay for medical care, many seniors now find themselves unable to enjoy even a slight extravagance in their retirement. Instead, far too many seniors are barely maintaining their standard of living. Changes in how people plan for retirement must start much earlier.
If your retirement plan ends at the age of 65, it’s time for a new plan, one that includes what successful retirement means to you beyond the age of 65. The classic retirement model may have looked like a good plan years ago but the new generations of retirees, the baby boomers, seem unwilling to settle for that. For them, pleasure delayed, may be pleasured denied. Redefining retirement is the new catch phrase.
Industry analysts have debated for years the economic and social impact of the baby boomers hitting retirement age as they have for every milestone in the lives of the baby boomers. The boomer generation has altered every aspect of these milestones and not always in the expected manner.
Their ideas of retirement have turned many of the negatives of the old model around. The generation who grew up asking the questions, ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?‘ to just about everything in life have carried those questions into retirement as well.
“Why can’t I keep working?” “Why can’t I live the good life now?” “Why should we settle for less?”
The active lifestyle that baby boomers have enjoyed throughout their working life continues into their retirement life. It isn’t enough to just be not working anymore. They demand more from life.
Everything this generation does is studied and surveyed. They were the first to be targeted by market analysts and set new standards for generations to come. How business markets to the boomers has also changed. The priorities set by the boomers, no matter what the venue, have become the standard across the country.
When the boomers needed new homes, suburban communities spread up all across the land. When they needed better diaper options, a whole new industry developed and the disposable diaper was created. When they needed better appliances, more camping choices, faster communication and countless other products, industry evolved and new businesses were formed, all to fulfill the wishes of the extraordinary demand by this generation for the new and improved.
The activity level of the newly retired has also impacted our communities. Well known for their activism in political and social issues their entire lives, this generation has brought that energy to their personal lives as well. No longer is a house in the suburbs enough. Now communities are being built to once again feed the need of this aging generation. These communities include a wide variety of amenities to attract these seniors. Fitness centers, walking trails, social outlets and hi-tech security systems are the new standard for these neighborhoods. Convenience to shopping and community centers located nearby is a must. Golf courses, complete with a country club atmosphere, are hi-lights that are very attractive to the active senior and not to be ignored.
We have all heard that variety is the spice of life and once again it is the generation with the can-do attitude that is changing what we consider normal. We want it all even if it turns out to be just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
It is this sampling of life, this illusion of perpetual youth, which is the legacy that the baby boomer generation has bequeathed to the following generations.
“It’s a very funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”~William Somerset Maugham