BABY BOOMERS,unlike the generation preceding it, the Baby Boomer generation IS NOT silent. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers comprise approximately 25% of the population, but control 70% of the nation’s discretionary income (US Census)! They tend to be self-centered and individualistic in nature, are more tech savvy than their predecessors, and prefer quick fixes that do not require a lot of change. Health, energy and wellness are of utmost importance to Boomers, who do not like to admit they are aging and fight its progression through skin and hair products, anti-aging pills and lotions, weight-loss diets and techniques, and the use of medications such as Viagra. With these characteristics in mind, an engaging wellness program is important to this coming generation of senior living residents. The program must appeal to a progressive, tech savvy, individualistic resident.
Boomer individualism will affect the way they react within a senior living community setting. They do enjoy group classes but also value the special attention of a personal trainer and a fitness routine which they can follow on their own time. Boomers tend to be more progressive, preferring less traditional forms of exercise such as Zumba, Tai Chi, and sports such as Pickle Ball (for those sore ex-tennis players). They already accept the vision of whole-person wellness so inclusion of exercise, diet, and meditation within their regimen is readily embraced.
In reviewing the book Spiritual Market Place: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion, Publishers Weekly states, “76 million boomers have .... remapped the spiritual landscape for all Americans; boomers have shifted attention from the institution to the individual, emphasized ‘lived religion' (religion in practice) and created a 'quest culture'." Boomers may or may not be regular attendees of a Judeo-Christian service, as they seek meaning independently. In order to serve both Silents and Boomers, a wellness program should make traditional services accessible while also providing spiritual programming that allows for acceptance of many belief systems. The community can also sponsor less structured and quest-seeking meditation and relaxation groups.
Since Boomers placed emphasis on work that resulted in wealth and success, the loss of identity in retirement can have a great impact on them. “We know for certain that baby boomers have a higher prevalence rate of depression than the generation before them,” says Donald A. Malone, Jr., M.D., Director of the Mood and Anxiety Clinic in the department of psychiatry and psychology at the Cleveland Clinic. “ (http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-and-baby-boomers-how-having-it-all-may-be-too-much). The good news may be that many Boomers were raised on Dr. Spock and, therefore, are likely to be comfortable with concepts such as analysis and family dynamics. Educational presentations regarding self-help and mental health will appeal to this group.
Boomers are by nature social creatures, but they also value individualism. A whole-person wellness program directed at them should offer individual activities to complement group events. Woodworking, gardening, walking, and swimming laps are great individual activities. Be sure to encourage involvement by setting personal goals or purposes for engagement in these pursuits.
Boomers tend to be more educated than the generation before them. With no world wars interrupting their educations, many attended college. Boomers want to feel like they are abreast of local happenings so virtual college courses are appealing. Given the Boomer obsession with staying young, they will be enthusiastic about opportunities to maintain their cognitive functioning with digital applications as well as with online or actual classes.
Boomers are mixed regarding environmental issues. There is a divide between those who think green, are cognizant of their carbon footprint, and are concerned about environmental issues compared to an equal number who do not embrace those concepts. Your wellness program should include some green initiatives for the environmentalists in addition to opportunities already a part of your wellness programming for the Silents.
Many Boomers who placed significant importance on work became workaholics. As previously mentioned, the loss of identity, success, and wealth upon leaving their jobs can prove quite traumatic. Some choose to continue to work far into their retirement years, and many retool themselves for other roles – perhaps something they dreamed of doing during their years of regular employment. A healthy wellness program for Boomers should incorporate opportunities for them to find a purpose during retirement.
Baby Boomers have impacted the world tremendously, and they will continue to do so in their older years. Communities can prepare now for their specific traits and desires by redefining a current wellness program in anticipation of their desires.
Next week, we will explore the overall value of a strong wellness program to a senior living organization.
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