Musings

OK Boomers, What Do You Think of "OK Boomer"?

Musings Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 11.56.09 AMAmong the popular movement-based phrases are "Black Lives Matter" and "#MeToo." Another one of late representing a different kind of "movement" is the phrase, "OK Boomer." As The New York Times reports:

“Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them.

OK, I get at least one of the motivations behind "OK Boomer." In the context of climate change, war, government corruption, inequality or any number of other burning issues, it seems legitimate for younger generations to scold Boomers for, well, mucking up the world we live in. It is difficult for the Boomer generation to deny its responsibility for some if not many of the world's ills. Furthermore, the notion of a younger generation ridiculing or disrespecting an older generation is something which has a certain familiarity, doesn't it? Isn't that the way we felt about our own parents as we were growing up, steeped in rebellion and protest? Now, it seems, we're getting some of the same treatment we dished out to elders during our youth.

On the other hand, when used in a pejorative sense to simply trash Boomers because they are older, "OK Boomer" may seem like a phrase that is dismissive, rude and age-bashing. It is particularly hurtful when a wildly popular sweatshirt adds something else to this phrase, as depicted in the article in The New York Times: "OK BOOMER Have a Terrible Day." So, it appears some who use the phrase in this way may deeply distrust and even dislike Boomers. Sadly, it is also indicative of the tribal warfare that has become normalized in our dealings with one another. This is a time in our history when groups of people are poised to reject others, simply because they're different, are of different generations or have different beliefs.

I'm not any more a fan of "OK Boomer" than I am of "Go back where you came from." What are your thoughts about "OK Boomer"?

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


Ageism Around the World

Musings Hands-216982_1280The World Health Organization (WHO) calls ageism "the most socially acceptable prejudice in the world," according to a recent article on NextAvenue.orgAgeism, says WHO, goes largely unchallenged, and because it is "implicit and subconscious," people may be prejudice against older people without even knowing it.

What do we, as aging Boomers, do to combat what could well be viewed as a worldwide epidemic? A study referenced in the NextAvenue.org article suggests that there are certain "interventions" that help to reduce ageism. Two interventions that are found to be most effective are (1) education about aging and (2) inter-generational programs.

Education

From my perspective, there is a crying need for educating American society about aging. Many Boomers probably remember a childhood in which we were counseled to "respect our elders." Today, this notion seems to have been forgotten. Elders, older Americans, seniors, or whatever you want to call them are derided in a variety of ways: They are ignored or, even worse, patronized by younger consumers. They are ridiculed on television programs, in movies and in product advertising. They are openly discriminated against in the workplace.

The irony of age discrimination is that aging is inevitable. Everyone who may now be prejudiced against older people will one day be older themselves. Ageism is so pervasive, however, that it is indeed "implicit and subconscious." In fact, if we're being honest with ourselves, even Boomers can be prejudiced against our elders. For example, I admit to being occasionally impatient and intolerant of "older people" who take a little longer to check out at the drug store, or who drive a lot slower on the road. That's probably an unhealthy symptom of our high-speed society.

We should be teaching about aging in America's elementary and secondary schools as well as in our colleges. We should be seeing and hearing public service announcements about the fact that wisdom comes from experience and age. We should find ways to celebrate our aging society instead of ridiculing it.

Inter-generational Programs

There are a growing number of creative, innovative programs designed to bring younger and older generations together. They seem to be largely centered around educational institutions. For example, my local OLLI (Osher Life Learning Institute), located on a college campus, has inter-generational seminars and get-togethers with its older members and college students. An organization that is strong in its focus on inter-generational programs is Encore.org.

Other logical ways to facilitate inter-generational programs are through tutoring, mentoring, and volunteering. Age should not be a barrier to participate in volunteer programs; one benefit of volunteering is that young and old alike can share common interests and a common goal through volunteering for a particular cause or organization. 

You can also make the case that one of the best places to encourage inter-generational respect is the workplace. Younger and older employees working together should be the norm, not the exception, and senior management (despite their age) should foster cooperation across demographic lines. Older workers should be valued, not vilified. They have a deep knowledge base and can be especially vital as mentors to younger workers -- if an organization respects them for their experience.

An encouraging result of the above-referenced study is that even small-scale interventions can be effective: "...the interventions were not highly expensive, large-scale, multi-year projects. They were relatively small and easy to implement."

Perhaps ageism around the world cannot be eliminated, but education and inter-generational programs are two ways to work toward significantly reducing it.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS

 


There's Nothing "Normal" About Your Retirement Age

Musings Directory-1334441_1920According to the Social Security Administration, the"Normal Retirement Age" has a great deal of meaning:

Retirement before "Normal Retirement Age" (NRA) reduces benefits, and retirement after NRA increases benefits. NRA, also referred to as "Full Retirement Age," varies from age 65 to age 67 by year of birth.

This is a table of the Normal Retirement Ages from the year of birth 1937 through 1960 and later: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/nra.html As you can see, since birth year 1943, the NRA is considered to be at least 66 years of age. If you were born in 1960 or later, your NRA is 67.

Please visit https://www.ssa.gov for complete information about the monthly benefit you would receive at Normal Retirement Age, how waiting until age 70 will increase your monthly benefit, and details about continuing to work while collecting Social Security benefits. You can set up a personal Social Security account online and get the details customized for you. These specifics are not what this blog post is about.

What I really want to discuss here is the notion that there is nothing "normal" about a Boomer's retirement age. I know Boomers who are in their late 50s or early 60s who consider themselves "retired" because they have left the traditional workforce. However, when you dig a bit deeper, many of these retired Boomers are not fully retired at all. They still work, they just do so in a different and sometimes very creative way. Some of them work part-time, some do freelance gigs, some consult. Few of these retirees are sitting around twiddling their thumbs. I also know Boomers who continue to work full-time well past their "normal" retirement age and hope to do so for many more years -- as long as their employers see it that way too.

According to the Social Security Administration, "More than one in three 65 year olds today will live to age 90, and more than one in seven will live to age 95." Read that again and fully digest the implications. If you are 65, you have a better than 30 percent chance of living another 25 years. That makes it even more absurd to think of the "normal retirement age" as 66!

As I've discussed in previous blog posts, Boomers have dramatically redefined retirement to the point that the word itself is obsolete. It is hard to imagine more than a handful of Boomers who view "retirement" in the traditional sense. Our parents thought of retirement at age 65 as a time when you fulfilled your life's work and then stopped working, period. The assumption was that you had a fairly limited time left after the age of 65. Whatever years remained were presumably spent enjoying the fruits of your labor -- maybe collecting a pension as well as Social Security.

Many Boomers are blowing right past age 65 and not even giving it a second thought. Yes, we may have a bit less energy and feel kind of stiff getting out of bed in the morning... but that isn't enough to slow most of us down.

"Normal" retirement age??? I don't think so!

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


Where There's a Will...

Musings Testament-229778_1920What did Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, and Prince have in common? The easy answer is they were all musical superstars. But they had something a lot more troubling in common: They all died without a will. Now there is every good reason for these celebrities to think they were going to live a lot longer, so they may have put off writing a will. Still, it is almost inconceivable that people with the kind of assets they must have accumulated to not have at least a will, if not a trust, to protect their estate and their heirs.

No one likes to think about their own mortality, but the legal implications of dying without a will are enormous. According to LegalZoom.com, "Although laws pertaining to dying without a will (intestate in legal terms) vary by state, distribution of property and assets generally follows a similar pattern. In other words, every state has a 'default' plan for the distribution of property in the event that you die without a will. The laws follow a predefined formula and might not be what you want or expect."

In addition to a will, a trust might provide important protections both while you are alive and after you die. ElderLawAnswers.com clearly explains the difference between a will and a trust:

"A will is a document that directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. By contrast, a trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterwards. A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a 'trustee,' holds legal title to property for another person, called a 'beneficiary.' A trust usually has two types of beneficiaries -- one set that receives income from the trust during their lives and another set that receives whatever is left over after the first set of beneficiaries dies.

"A will covers any property that is only in your name when you die. It does not cover property held in joint tenancy or in a trust. A trust, on the other hand, covers only property that has been transferred to the trust. In order for property to be included in a trust, it must be put in the name of the trust.

Another difference between a will and a trust is that a will passes through probate. That means a court oversees the administration of the will and ensures the will is valid and the property gets distributed the way the deceased wanted. A trust passes outside of probate, so a court does not need to oversee the process, which can save time and money. Unlike a will, which becomes part of the public record, a trust can remain private."

As a Boomer, you should make it your business to know about wills and trusts. These essential legal instruments offer you protection and peace of mind. Speak with a legal adviser before it's too late.

 


Don't Worry, Be Happy... and You'll Live Longer

Musings Woman-1031000_1920Do you consider yourself an optimist? If you answered "Yes," you are likely to live longer.

According to Harvard University, "Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve 'exceptional longevity,' that is, living to age 85 or older."

“While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging,” explained corresponding author Lewina Lee, PhD, clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston and assistant professor of psychiatry at BUSM. “This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies.”

The study followed almost 70,000 women for 10 years and over 1,400 men for 30 years. According to Harvard, "When individuals were compared based on their initial levels of optimism, the researchers found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan, and had 50-70 percent greater odds of reaching 85 years old compared to the least optimistic groups."

Chances are you know or have heard about people in their 80s and 90s who maintain remarkably positive attitudes despite the challenges of daily living. On the other hand, you may be acquainted with older folks who complain frequently and whom you probably view as bitter and pessimistic.

This extensive study confirms what many aging Boomers probably know intuitively: Our sense of optimism, contentment or happiness has a lot to do with our physical health. Looking at this study optimistically suggests a strong correlation between a positive outlook and a longer life. Pretty cool!

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS

 


Is Money the Root of All Evil?

Musings Money-2696219_1920"For the love of money is the root of all evil..." is a phrase taken from the Bible. When it comes to avarice, the phrase is indeed appropriate, but when it comes to retirement, money is rooted in reality: It is a necessity, plain and simple, for us to have a worry-free retirement. What may be most interesting about the relationship between retirement and money, though, is that many Boomers haven't got a good grasp on just how much money they really need to retire. In fact, some of us don't have a clue.

As reported by Richard Eisenberg for NextAvenue.org, two studies confirm that there is a gap between perception and reality. Perception: 46 percent of "late career" respondents (workers age 53 to 64) said they thought they'd spend less on housing in retirement. Reality: Only 30 percent of retirees surveyed are paying less for mortgages or rent and utilities than when they worked full-time -- and 17 percent are spending more on housing. On healthcare, the balance tips the other way. Perception: 35 percent of late career workers thought they'd spend more on healthcare insurance premiums. Reality: Only 30 percent are spending more, and 28 percent are actually spending less on healthcare insurance premiums. Of course, that doesn't include medical costs that could exceed expectations as one gets older.

As we approach retirement, Boomers are simply not all that accurate when it comes to predicting their expenses in retirement. That said, one of the best ways to predict expenses later is to manage expenses while you're working and set realistic spending targets for when you retire.

You may have to establish a budget that reflects a more modest lifestyle based on a more modest income. Social Security in combination with a draw from a retirement savings account could very well make up the majority of your income. You may find that isn't sufficient to support the lifestyle you're accustomed to -- which is why you, like many Boomers, may want to keep working. Even so, the work you can get in your later years may produce substantially less income. There really are only two ways to solve the basic problem: Generate more income or cut your expenses. Creating a realistic expense budget that accounts for your basic living expenses and includes line item contingencies for optional or unanticipated expenses will certainly help. At some point, you also may have to face some tough decisions to bring expenses in line with income and assets, such as a possible downsizing of your home.

With Boomers living so much longer, the only thing "evil" about money will be how quickly it is likely to disappear. 

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


"Praemonitus, Praemunitus"


Plan-707359_1920

MusingsIf you were one of the fortunate students who took Latin in high school or college, you might recognize the two words that comprise the title of this blog post. It loosely translates into the well-known phrase, "Forewarned is forearmed." This phrase has special meaning for Boomers who are considering retirement: It cautions us to anticipate issues and challenges before taking the retirement plunge.

Lack of advance planning for retirement may be one of the most common problems Boomers face. One reason could be that they intend to keep working and simply don't plan to "retire" in the traditional sense. Another may be that retirement seems unrealistic or far off in the future. Intellectually, we all know we are aging, and some sort of retirement, or "second act" if you prefer, is inevitable. Emotionally, however, we may not want to admit that we will ever "retire."

Advance planning is a kind of mental insurance that pays dividends. On the financial side, advance planning means taking stock of your finances, managing your expenses, and ensuring that you have adequately funded your retirement through a combination of pensions, if any, retirement funds, and Social Security income. On the personal side, advance planning may mean taking steps to improve your physical and mental health as you age.

Writing for The Balance, Wes Moss enumerates eight "headaches" that Boomers should avoid as they move closer to retirement. He discusses such issues as unexpected early retirement, the challenge of what to do with your time in retirement, the possible need to care for elderly parents, how retirement affects your relationship with your spouse, and the reality that you could outlive your money. His article is well worth reading.

The point is this: Boomers who have blinders on about retirement will only find themselves blind-sided if something unanticipated occurs. Life changes both small and large will happen as we age -- the only question is how well prepared we are for them.

"Praemonitus, Praemunitus" turns out to be excellent advice.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


Reconsidering "Woodstock Nation"

Musings Woodstock-art-568933_1920Surely you've noticed all the buzz in the last few weeks about the 50th anniversary of Woodstock (August 15 - 18, 1969). If you had the good fortune (or misfortune, in some cases) to be at that iconic event, you surely have a memory to last a lifetime.

I didn't make it to Woodstock, but I was keenly aware of it. The closest I came to a mini-Woodstock experience was attending a free concert in New York's Central Park. In August 1969, I was a New York University (NYU) student, about to enter my senior year. NYU was a hotbed of radical social protest and anti-war activity; I played a non-violent role as editor of a student satire magazine.

Most of us didn't know it at the time, but Woodstock would come to represent the aspirations of an entire generation. In a recent article for The New York Times, music critic Jon Pareles wrote, "Woodstock was a brief moment that would provide contradictory lessons for generations to come. It was entertainment that felt momentarily rebellious — 'a festival of peace and music' — that posited art as an alternative reality. ...It lived up to that 'peace and music' billing to gather an unexpectedly large, unexpectedly amiable community; it envisioned pleasure as a solution to societal strife, not merely a distraction from it. (That didn’t pan out.)"

Abbie Hoffman, co-founder of the Youth International Party, better known as the "Yippies," famously branded the Boomer generation "Woodstock Nation" in the event's honor, although he may have been projecting his own activism too broadly. The numbers were indeed impressive -- some one million people journeyed to Bethel, New York, where the Woodstock festival took place, and about half a million actually attended the event. However, the impact of Woodstock Nation is harder to define.

One could accurately view Woodstock as the culmination of an era of protest and unrest, largely influenced by young activists. The Sixties and early Seventies included such movements as civil rights, gay rights, women's liberation, environmentalism and anti-war, tinged with the hippie counterculture attributes of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." While activists may have had the loudest voices, a segment of our generation preferred to align with the "Silent Majority."

Can we objectively credit Woodstock Nation with bringing about real change? Yes, the era's activists participated in movements that eventually brought about fundamental change, not the least of which was ending the Vietnam War. Still, fifty years after Woodstock, we face many of the same social and global challenges we protested against then. Why couldn't we sustain the vision of Woodstock Nation? It may simply be that our generation had to accept the reality of moving on in life -- earning a living, starting and supporting a family, saving for retirement and, for some, caring for our own parents. In short, we grew up.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS

 


The "Doer" Dilemma

Question-mark-96288_1920 MusingsMost of the Boomers I know are "doers." They need to be doing something to keep themselves busy, motivated and healthy. The older doers get, the more they realize that some of the things they have been  doing for years are now a lot more challenging. Broadly speaking, aging may make working long hours more tiring. It may make driving in traffic more stressful. It may make strenuous physical activity more difficult.

These kinds of challenges may cause one to contemplate retirement. When faced with retirement, the doer has a real dilemma. It is likely to be pretty scary. What will the doer do when he or she no longer has the multi-year career that was engaging? For some Boomers, their career may have even defined them as individuals.

In her article on NextAvenue.org, retired therapist Connie Zweig wrestles with this dilemma. She writes,"Like many boomers, I had found meaning and even love through my work. So, one part of me wanted to continue to do what I had always done: push hard to be productive so that I could enjoy a feeling of well-being at the end of the day. But another part wanted to leap into the unknown, letting go of old roles until a new beginning emerged."

Later in her insightful article, Zweig asks the question "Who Are We Beyond Work?" She found that she needed to ask herself "tough inner questions" to discover the answer. She pondered such questions as:

  • "What is the role that no longer serves me? How is my identity tied to that role? Who am I if I am not that role? What has been sacrificed during my career to maintain that role?"
  • "What is my fantasy of the future? Am I drawn to serve others? Am I drawn to a spiritual or contemplative practice? What stops me from engaging in service or meditation?"

Zweig admits that her circumstances allowed her the freedom to consider different retirement paths, rather than be forced to continue to work because of financial need. Not everyone has the luxury of such a choice. Still, those Boomers who have the financial security to leave the workforce and do something else should be asking the kinds of questions Zweig asked herself. That may be the only way they will truly solve the doer dilemma.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


Double Trouble for Boomers: Money and Health

Money-943761_1920 MusingsSome Boomers like to think they're invincible: They fully expect to be able to work into their 70s or beyond. The good news is that the percentage of workers over the age of 62 in the workforce has steadily increased. But consider this: While the national unemployment rate for workers age 55 and older is generally lower than the overall unemployment rate, the long-term unemployment rate (out of work 27 weeks or more) for older workers is generally higher than the overall long-term unemployment rate. That suggests once a Boomer is out of work, it is harder to get back into the workforce.

Cleo Parker's story is all too typical. As reported in The New York Times, Parker was about to turn 50 when her long-time marketing job was eliminated in 2006, a few years before the big recession. For the next ten years, she had to work a variety of contract and lower-paying jobs. She finally found a full-time job but that ended in 2018. Now 62, Parker finds she is overqualified for most of the jobs she interviews for, and the salary for those jobs is far less than what she earned before.

The financial pressure of this type of situation is obvious. Boomers who have had good, well-paying jobs for decades and then find themselves out of work are often faced with a precipitous drop in income in their later working years. Having all of the things associated with a middle class life -- house, car, sending your kids to college, etc. -- may have taken precedent over adequately saving for retirement. So now, the Boomer who is out of work or working at a low-paying job may be stuck with too much debt and expenses that exceed income. If expenses aren't reduced and savings are meager, the Boomer may have to draw Social Security benefits earlier than planned, which means lower monthly SS payments for the rest of that person's life. In addition, any retirement savings, such as 401(k) investments, typically cannot be drawn upon without penalty until age 70-1/2.

Involuntary job loss can be devastating -- but so can employment that is interrupted or abruptly ends because of health issues. Older workers are susceptible to more health problems than younger workers, if for no other reason than they are older. While there is some small comfort in having employer-paid health insurance or Medicare as of age 65, health problems can still be costly, both in terms of out-of-pocket medical expenses and loss of time on the job. Even worse, a serious health problem can lead to an unanticipated earlier retirement from the workforce.

So what can Boomers do about the double whammy of money and health? For one thing, we need to make a concerted effort to save as much as we can for retirement while we are still working. We should also try to delay taking Social Security payments at least until our "full retirement age," as defined by Social Security, or until age 70, when you can draw the maximum benefit. In terms of our health, as we age, it is very important for us to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and generally take good care of ourselves. Other than that... it's a crap shoot!

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS