Remember MAD magazine*? If so, well…you are probably a boomer.Today’s Baby Boomer tends to substitute “What, me worry?* ”(MAD magazine) with “What, me old?” Yes, this psychographic group refuses to grow old, or at least fights growing old with tooth and nail.
The first Baby Boomers turned age 65 in the year 2011, and this group increases by approximately 10,000 per day over the next 17 years. Wow, that’s a group of leads! For decades, Boomers have affected our nation dramatically in many ways – politically, sociologically, and economically – and this immense generation now has tremendous impact on how America and its providers view and address aging in America.
So who are these boomers? How do they think? What do they want out of their retirement years?
Boomers benefited from growing up during times of financial expansion. Many have taken advantage of a higher degree of education, improved health provision, accessibility to fitness programs, and a focus on health and wellness. However, even with all of these advantages, not all Boomer seniors are healthy, wealthy and wise.
Baby Boomers remain one of the most diverse generations of all those that preceded them, but a high degree of groups within this generation, particularly minorities, did not or were unable to partake of the aforementioned advantages; they now suffer with poor health and inadequate funds as they face retirement. Even though the availability of medical care increased over time, so too, did the cost of care. Since Boomers are living longer, this generation suffers from the same chronic conditions as the generations that preceded them but lack the wherewithal to cover those costs. Unlike their predecessors who often benefited from employer pensions, pensions somehow mutated into 401(k)s, Roth IRAs and other forms of self-funded retirement, leaving Boomers to rely on themselves to fund their golden years, yet many failed to save adequately.
Attitudinally, Boomers almost deny age. Many books have been written and much research has been conducted about this population, its characteristics and its attitudes. One such selection is Baby Boomers: Can My Eighties Be Like My Fifties? edited by M. Joanna Mellor and Helen Rehr. They assert that research and speculation defines this group as independent, autonomous, self-directive, philanthropic, yet also exhibiting traits of entitlement. What does this mean for our industry?
Many seniors who are independent, autonomous and self-directive, will choose to live at home for as long as possible.NAR Economist Paul Bishop noted over three years ago that “the older edge of Baby Boomers…have been staying in their homes a little longer than they did five years ago. ”To appeal to this population, the senior service industry can create or strengthen home care agencies to assist Boomers in achieving their desired independence and sense of autonomy.As an extension of their continuing care communities, many traditional senior living providers are developing continuing care at home (CCAH) programs. CCAH programs achieve goals of both the provider and the Boomer and deliver access to health services if needed in the future. (See our related product at http://www.retirementdynamics.com/senior-home-care). And remembering that this group does exhibit traits of entitlement, we must progress into the hospitality-type organizations that have been encouraged for the last decade.Be ready. Boomers are well on their way.
*Mad Magazine is owned by DC Comics and the image used is the likeness of Alfred E. Neuman, the "What, me worry?" kid.
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