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August 2020

When We Get There, the Future will be Ours

Musings Pair-2914879_1920It's easy for Boomers to be discouraged and pessimistic right now, but keep your eye on the future. It will be ours.

How can I be so sure? It's all about statistics:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported in June that those in the 65-plus age group in the U.S. grew by a hefty 34.2 percent over the past decade, and by 3.2 percent from 2018 to 2019.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau projected that by 2034, there will be 77 million people 65 years and older in the U.S. vs. 76.5 million people under the age of 18 -- marking the first time in history older people will outnumber children.
  • The World Population Prospects 2019 report published by the United Nations indicates that 1 in 11 people in the world were over age 65 in 2019, but 1 in 6 people in the world will be over age 65 by 2050. According to the report, "Virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the size and proportion of older persons in their population." Further, the report states, "Throughout most of the world, survival beyond age 65 is improving."
  • Wharton professor Mauro Guillen, author of the just published book, 2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, told NextAvenue's Richard Eisenberg, "the number of people over sixty is growing everywhere in the world. By 2030, they will become the largest consumer market segment for the first time in history."

What this means is that we -- Boomers -- own the future.  But the reality of an aging population has not yet been acknowledged, as it should be, by any part of our society, whether it's state and federal governments, employers, industries that serve the country, or marketers of goods and services.

We can help shape what that future will look like by exerting the power of our demographic slice of the United States. We can advocate for ourselves and for Boomers in general. We can vote for politicians we believe will not put our old age in jeopardy. We can ask and, if necessary, demand that ageism be abolished once and for all.

Mauro Guillen talks about a bright future for Boomers: In his NextAvenue interview, he suggests that employers will be much more interested in hiring seniors for part-time jobs and that the gig economy will benefit Boomers. He believes intergenerational collaboration will become more common. He thinks technology will become increasingly important in helping an aging population deal with the challenges of growing older. My conclusion is that government and industry will have to serve an older population because an older population will be the majority.

There is power in numbers -- and in the not too distant future, the numbers will be in our favor. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image by Susanne Pälmer from Pixabay

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Technology is Our Best Frenemy

Musings Samantha-borges-EeS69TTPQ18-unsplashOne notable side effect of the coronavirus pandemic for Boomers has been our increased use of technology as a direct result of the increase in isolation. I've witnessed this in my own life as well as hearing about similar experiences from family and friends. I consider myself someone who keeps up pretty well with technology, but in the past several months, I've used technology in new ways, including:

  • Organizing Zoom calls with family members who are scattered across the country
  • Taking an online class at my local OLLI college for seniors, also via Zoom
  • Attending music concerts online
  • Ordering groceries online through an app for home delivery
  • Making extensive use of self-checkout when I was ready to go into a grocery store
  • Ordering takeout food online from local restaurants
  • Using "Apple Pay" to avoid swiping a credit card
  • Having my first telehealth session with a physician
  • Joining in a Zoom discussion with other seniors from around the country about the pros and cons of telehealth.

On the positive side, if you have a decent Internet connection and a trustworthy digital device, remote interconnectivity can literally be a lifesaver. When you can't travel to visit your kids or grandkids in person, you can at least have a conversation, see them smile and hear them laugh. When you don't want to linger in grocery aisles, you can get someone else to do the shopping for you (at a higher price). When you fear attending meetings, taking classes, or even going to work, it's comforting to know there is a reasonable alternative. For example, I thought the senior class I took online was excellent, and I'm looking forward to taking courses again in the Fall.

On the other hand, technology isn't always intuitive, nor is it foolproof. The audiovisual quality can vary, technology glitches can occur and some experiences are less than satisfactory. I learned, for instance, that it takes a lot longer to add things to a digital grocery cart than I realized -- and if the shopper assigned to your order can't find an item you want, you have to be available to quickly pick an alternative. Now that's pressure! I also found out that telehealth wasn't all I had hoped it would be: My doctor's appointment was delayed for 45 minutes because previous patients were having problems connecting with or using the telehealth platform. While it was great not having to drive to the doctor's office and be exposed to others in the waiting room, I still had to wait!

This pandemic has made me realize how lucky we are to have technology that can help us do things without the risk of physical, personal contact -- and how unlucky we are that we must sacrifice the physical, personal contact to which we had become accustomed. I guess that's why I consider technology a Boomer's best "frenemy." is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Photo by Samantha Borges on Unsplash

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Attitude Begets Endurance

BooksThese are tough times for everyone, and retired Boomers are no exception. Many of us wonder when we'll be able to truly emerge from forced hibernation without risking our health and well-being. When will we be able to travel again... to go to a movie theatre or a concert... to hug our grandchildren?

One thing is for certain: When it comes to maintaining our resilience, attitude is everything. A positive attitude makes a huge difference -- not a Pollyanna-ish attitude that is naively cheery, but a positive attitude grounded in pragmatism and the belief that we will endure. We used to call it "keeping your head on straight."

Heidi Herman expresses it in a different but equally positive way: "On with the Butter!" It's an old Icelandic expression she learned from her mom that essentially means "forge ahead" or "carry on." It's also the title of Heidi's new book, which was inspired by her mother's unfailingly positive attitude about life -- she kept tirelessly adventuring until her passing last year at age 94.

Intended for Boomers and retirees, On With The Butter: Spread More Living onto Everyday Life is a happy, lively book written by someone who realizes that life "is far too long to be squandered on unhappiness or boredom." That's why, when Heidi retired, "instead of buying a rocking chair, I learned to fly." Heidi means that literally... she did learn to fly!

In the book are fifteen chapters with such uplifting titles as "Just Say Yes," "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Take the Scenic Route." Each chapter conveys Heidi's can-do attitude about life and often shares anecdotes about or wisdom from her mother. At the close of a chapter, Heidi includes a section called "The Challenge," which encourages the reader to embrace a particular area of living. Every chapter also offers a checklist chock full of easy-to-follow ideas to take action and break out of the sameness mold. The ideas range from little to big, obvious to not-so-obvious, but they are always positive and inspiring.

This is a time when all of us need to "spread more living onto everyday life," as Heidi enthusiastically suggests in her book. A positive attitude and a disposition oriented toward succeeding is what we really need to endure.

COVID-19 and Generational Resilience

Picture-416614_1920For this blog post, I am taking the unusual step of providing information directly from Age Wave (mentioned in my previous post) about a just-released retirement study that is important for Boomers to know about. This report is based on a large-scale investigation of what it means to live well in retirement that began in November 2019. The study was conducted by Edward Jones in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll. 

August 4, 2020 - Despite COVID-19’s severe and disproportionate impact on the health of aging adults, older Americans reported they are coping far better than younger ones, according to the Edward Jones and Age Wave study released today, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement.” The 9,000-person, five-generation study in the U.S. and Canada revealed that in the U.S. 37% of Gen Z and 27% of millennials said they have suffered mental health declines since the pandemic began, while only 15% of baby boomers and 8% of silent generation respondents said the same. 

"COVID-19’s impact forever changed the reality of many Americans, yet we’ve observed a resilience among U.S. retirees in contrast to younger generations,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., psychologist/gerontologist and founder and CEO of Age Wave. “Older Americans tend to recognize the value of a long-term view, and so as they think about their lives, longevity and legacy, they’re able to pull from an array of experiences that help them weather current storms, feel gratitude about many aspects of their lives and still plan for the future.” 

The landmark Edward Jones and Age Wave research uncovered a new definition for retirement, as far more than simply the end of work. The majority of U.S. retirees (55%) defined retirement as a whole new chapter filled with new choices, freedoms and challenges, and they do so in a more holistic way across four important areas of health, family, purpose and finance.

COVID-19's Impact on Family Closeness and Finances
COVID-19’s initial dramatic impact on the U.S. economy and personal financial situations may very well leave long-lasting implications. Reflecting a great deal of generational generosity, 24 million Americans* have provided financial support to adult children due to COVID-19, and an overwhelming 71% of retirees said they would offer financial support to their family even if it could jeopardize their own financial future. Despite COVID-19’s negative impact on finances, 67% of Americans said the pandemic has brought their families closer together. The research also revealed that 20 million Americans stopped making retirement savings contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and only a quarter of working Americans were on track with their retirement savings prior to the pandemic. 

“We've certainly seen COVID-19's disruptive force on finances, with the pandemic influencing retirement timing and financial confidence,” said Ken Cella, Edward Jones Client Services Group Principal. “However, this cloud has brought several silver linings in terms of family closeness and important discussions about planning earlier for retirement, saving more for emergencies and even talking through end-of-life plans and long-term care costs.”

Social Relationships as Predictor of Health and Purpose
While loneliness is pervasive across all five generations, as people age, physical isolation becomes a greater health risk, as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day , and it is linked to increased risk for heart disease and dementia.  While most retirees (76%) said they derive the greatest sense of purpose from social relationships, specifically time spent with loved ones, 72% noted that one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their families. 

"Retirees say they miss people and purpose, not paychecks, when they retire, but 31% of new retirees are struggling to find purpose in this stage of life. They want to feel useful, not just youthful, and keep learning and growing at every age," Dychtwald added. 

The study found that 89% of all Americans feel that there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of their communities and society at large. 

Financial Advisors as Connectors and Confidence Builders
As Americans redefine retirement in a broader way across the four pillars, the majority of U.S. respondents felt their ideal financial advisor is a guide who can understand them and help them achieve their goals. In fact, 84% of those working with a financial advisor said that their financial advisor relationship gave them a greater sense of comfort regarding their finances during the pandemic.

Further underscoring the fundamental importance of financial security, retirees are often met by new challenges as they enter retirement. Thirty-six percent of retirees said managing money in retirement is more confusing than saving for retirement, and they want help navigating. Fifty-two percent of retirees cited healthcare costs, including long-term care, as the most common financial worry. This concern was also echoed by pre-retirees as more than two-thirds (68%) of those who plan to retire in the next 10 years said they have no idea what their healthcare and long-term care costs will be in retirement.

“Beyond finances, we can help our clients envision and truly realize a holistic retirement, which, we know includes decisions about their health, family and purpose,” said Cella. “Empathy and knowledge allow us to better serve to our clients in a human-centered way and work together to achieve what’s most important to them and their families.”

While the above findings feature a selection of respondents’ thoughts regarding the new definition of retirement, further examination of the four pillars of health, family, purpose and finances reveal their highly intertwined nature and influence in shaping retirees’ overall quality of life. For more details from The Four Pillars of the New Retirement, please visit is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image by Hajnalka Mahler from Pixabay

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