It seems almost unbelievable, but 80 million Baby Boomers are now referred to as “retirees or near retirees.” Born between 1946 and 1964, the initial wave of Boomers will reach the traditional retirement age of 65 in 2011.
Boomers, well known for their unconventional approach to life will most likely re-invent their retirement years as well. When asked how they planned to spend their retirement years, most Boomers respond in one or more of four categories. At the top of this list, Boomers want to use their post-work years feeling good, looking good, doing good, and being good. Despite the protracted recession, Boomers are determined to have a retirement that is “all good.”
According to Cecily O’Connor, at Redwood Adage, fitness facilities for Boomers are springing up across the nation. Thinking outside the “big box,” these new establishments provide personal trainers to conduct “functional training,” an exercise concept that mimics the activities of daily life. The goal is to keep Boomers limber without excessively straining their aging bodies. Water aerobics and lap swims at the local Y are also popular and affordable fitness options for active Boomers who want to stay slim and mobile, but not sore. The martial arts, particularly Tai Chi, strongly appeals to the mature set because of the added dimension of the mind/body connection to keep Boomers alert, at peace, and in top physical condition.
Strength training recently became more popular with the over-60 set, and is purported to ease the aches and pains associated with aging joints and arthritic conditions. Michelle Yass, a Physical Therapist at PT2, noticed that Boomers would rather control the aches and pains of aging with exercise rather than surgery or medication.
Staying strong equates to staying young and pain free, and provides the added benefit of allowing Boomers to avoid the detriments of ingesting daily doses of pain medication. Yoga is another pain management method that promotes flexibility, a fitness genre that is gaining popularity among Boomers looking for a way to add both exercise and meditation into their busy lives, and move pain out of it.
In these tough economic times, Boomers are also staying fit by engaging in some good old fashion physical labor, such as growing flowers, gardening, and various home canning projects, as well as home redecorating, remodeling, furniture and toy making, jewelry crafting, and landscaping.
“Feeling good” entails more than just physical fitness, says, Karen Springen, author of the article, Should You Even Think of Retiring Early. She suggests that Boomers will suffer less “retirement shock,” if they can find a way to ease into retirement gradually by reducing their work hours over a period of several years because it helps to relieve much of the unwanted psychological distress that often accompanies drastic life shifts.
Springen recommends making a “Bucket List” of the top 10-100 things you would like to do before you die. Facebook offers examples of a Bucket List on its group, Bucket List: 100 things to do before you die. The group offers retirees ideas for the types of activities to include in their retirement plan, while also introducing them to a community of peers to add to their social network.
A quick perusal of the Facebook group’s page provides an abundance of chat that provides information on getting a college degree, learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, engaging in a course of self-study in a topic that intrigues you, or finding a means to hone one’s amateur skills and becoming more masterful of a lifelong interest. Themed vacations offer another way to improve yourself and accomplish the goals on your Bucket List.
To learn more about themed vacations, read Joe Collinsworth’s article,Discover Themed Vacations—A Great Way To Spend Your Time, and discover unique ideas to promote valuable learning while having the adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy international cuisines, art, music, culture, and scenic enchantment while vacationing with like-minded individuals who will soon be included in your circle of friends.
If a themed vacation is too extravagant, check into a “Volunteer Vacation,” on the Travel with a Challenge, website, which says volunteer vacations promote personal growth and self-awareness, both for the volunteer and those they help. Volunteer vacations may include saving rare plants in Hawaii, monitoring the health of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, or documenting the rural lifestyle of Barbados’ farmers. You might even volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation center in Alaska.
Nancy Schlossberg, 81, author of the books, Retire Smart, Retire Happy: Finding Your True Path in Life, and Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose, Transitions Through Life, an emeritus University of Maryland professor who still gives lectures and writes books says, “Retirement is a misnomer. You’re re-engaging in a new way with life.” Professor Schlossberg advises Boomers to “mull over what kind of retiree you would like to be.”
According to Schlossberg, “Continuers” simply modify what they did before, “adventurers” switch to something completely different (a State Department employee who becomes a motorcycle instructor), “spectators” remain involved (a former museum employee who keeps visiting museums), “searchers” keep looking for their niche, “easy gliders” relax and watch each day unfold, and “retreaters” become depressed and hole up.”
Boomers, the possibilities are endless, and the next phase of your life is entirely up to you. Now raise your right hand, and repeat after me, “I will plan and pursue a retirement for myself that is all good... good health, good times, good friends, good deeds, and good works.”
Sounds good, right?