Back in the late 1940’s when life was simpler, families sat in their home and spent time playing family card games and watching the new-fangled invention called television. They had a choice of three channels, maybe four if their area included Public Television. So with little else to do, couples started having children. Millions of them in fact. From 1945 – 1965 yearly birth increases averaged between 10 – 22% giving the US 78 million “baby boomers” creating a generation that thrived financially, physically and emotionally in the post war era.
It is an interesting situation today because something is happening to “us” that we planned for but never really expected: We got old! Most of us reject the notion of being a senior citizen because we are one of the healthiest generations in history meaning we are living longer than ever. Some reports suggest that baby boomers can expect to live 20 – 25 years longer than previous generations. Great news. But YIKES … that presents a few new challenges. Let’s take a look at a few:
- Money! While we love the thought of living longer, many boomers worry about financial resources. Even if we planned ahead, we expected our retirement to be about the same as our parents. Our longer life expectancy makes many of us question if our money will run out before we do. This real fear, one of our biggest challenges, can be eased however. Consult a financial expert and a tax specialist to address these two issues. There are ways to save but you need the advice of experts to do it successfully. If you own your home, explore a reverse mortgage.
- Move! Our parents used to watch Jack LaLanne and exercise with him on television. Our options are much greater these days but it is important to MOVE. There are many community centers and “senior centers” (yes, we are old enough to qualify) that offer excellent classes on movement and balance. Many of them have scholarship programs if you can’t afford it. Some have ride shares to get you there. Walk, swim, bicycle, jog, join a gym. It will keep your body almost as young as our mind thinks it is.
- Belong! Boomers are a very social group overall but it is easy to get lost and feel alone. Let’s face it … divorce, the early unexpected death of a spouse or friend, relocation to new community due to our downsizing can all lead to isolation. And our generation has another challenge here … the world is a much smaller place. Our immediate family often live states and sometimes countries away and getting together at the holidays requires planning and money. So find a place to belong. Remember that “senior center” with movement classes, they also have card and book clubs, there are travel tours for those can afford it. And we have social media that is easy to learn. Just don’t isolate. Belong.
- Diet! Simple enough to understand yet difficult to control. Learning to cook for a couple or yourself is much different than those meals you prepared for years for the tribe. Keep it simple now, a concept aging boomers should implement in every aspect of life. Stop eating before you are full. Fill your plate with healthy foods like vegetables and fruits in the center of your plate and then garnish that with tasty but less healthy foods. Yogurt and fresh fruit for dessert!
- STRESS-FREE! Ok, the person who can figure that out will be rich and may not exist. For most of us, it is important to find ways to reduce stress. Remember the 1940’s couples creating the largest generation in years? For many of us, our parents are still alive and need our help on a daily basis. Some live with us. Some need us to check in daily. Dr. Milton Greenburg reminded us that “First, we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.” If your parents (or you for that matter) use a medical alert system, we will notify you in the event of an emergency so you so you can live YOUR life. And to those of us boomer parents wanting to still protect our children, we can gift them with the knowledge we are cared for by protecting ourselves with a system that allows us to get fast help when seconds count.
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