Forever Young: Understanding the Baby Boomer Generation
by Debbie Hommel, ACC/MV/EDU, CTRS
Having worked as an activity professional for thirty-nine years, I never thought I would reach the day where the topic of activities appealing to my age group would be a source of discussion. I am a baby boomer. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. A baby boomer turns 50 every seven seconds and we are 79 million strong. The oldest of our generation is 71 years old and may be entering retirement.
The baby boomer generation has forged through life with gusto, questioning the status quo and introducing change to our society’s mores and values. Baby boomers are approaching this later stage of life with no less enthusiasm. Retirement to a baby boomer does not mean sitting in a rocking chair, watching the grass grow. Baby boomers don’t even like to use the word retirement; we are simply switching gears and going in a new direction.
The baby boomers are traditionally optimistic, independent minded, industrious and focused on social causes and personal improvement. Fifty percent of baby boomers spend at least thirteen hours per week online and another forty five percent of baby boomers are interested in healthy living and wellness. These are key points to consider as the baby boomer may be entering our care communities.
Program considerations for baby boomers:
*The music and program topics will need to shift to the time period between the 1960’s and 1980’s. We have seen this shift already and it is a wise activity professional who has updated their resource library.
*The titles of programs and program content will need to be adjusted. As a baby boomer, I would not attend a coffee klatch or balloon toss. I would attend yoga, art class or go to the Cyber Café for some organic, free trade coffee.
*The baby boomer’s programs will need to have clear purpose and meaning. Keeping the baby boomer busy, just to keep them busy, will not be received well. Baby boomers like to see the whole picture and need to know how our participation will contribute to the final outcome.
*Baby boomers will want more amenities such as full spa services and internet access in their room. Concierge services will be necessary to address the individual needs and interests of this population. We are used to getting what we want.
*Baby boomers are going to want more flexibility in programming. Baby boomers have worked hard all their lives and if there is one thing they will take advantage of, during retirement time, is not having to stick to a schedule. Open recreation and smaller, spontaneous groups will be more appealing than committing to a posted schedule of events.
*Specific programs which will appeal to the baby boomer would be community oriented groups such as re-cycling committees, or a committee focusing on making sure the facility is “green”. Volunteer or mentor opportunities will be very enticing to the baby boomer because we still have a lot to offer and like feeling useful.
*Healthy living programs will be of great interest to the baby boomer, including activities focused on growing and cooking fresh food, stress management classes and the availability of a Life Coach to assist with transition.
*The baby boomer has worked hard all their lives and sees this time period as a chance to do the things they never had the time to do before. Classes, educational opportunities, guest speakers, and learning a variety of new things will be top on the interest list for most baby boomers.
The baby boomer generation has already started to re-defining aging and what it means to approach this “Third Age” of life. Much of the culture change movement is the baby boomer working to change the values of eldercare. Culture change emphasizes home, individualization and the person, not rules and the establishment. This sounds just right to most people, not just the baby boomer.
The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.
Check out Distance Learning Program:
Understanding and Programming for the Baby Boomer Generation
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