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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Boomers are booming!

Boomers are Blooming!

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     Aging has been re-defined in 21st century America.  No longer do we assume that 60-somethings, 70-somethings or even 80-somethings are spending their days in the rocking chair waiting for the grim reaper.  People are not riding off into the sunset.  They are branching out in new directions.  They are blooming!  

            Visit one of the big retirement communities, such as The Villages in Florida, and you will find active seniors with their days packed full of sports, recreation and even school.  They are building and buying homes, traveling the world and volunteering in their communities in record numbers.  They are branching out beyond their former roles of parent and professional and rediscovering their dreams.  

            A big reason for this new outlook on aging is improved health care.  Medical conditions which might have meant certain death for earlier generations are now survivable.  Preventative medicine and a new emphasis on health and fitness mean many older Americans can look forward to at least 20 more healthy productive years after traditional retirement. 

            So, how can seniors prepare for this “second act” of life?  How can we branch out and bloom as aging adults?   

     Do some digging.  

            Any good gardener knows that the key to healthy blossoms is preparing the soil.  You’ve got to dig a little. If you’ve spent the last 30 years making a living, raising kids and being responsible for your family, you may have lost touch with your own personal dreams, desires and passions.  It is necessary then to dig down into your memories.  

  Think back to when you were eight or nine years old.  What did you really want to be when you grew up?  How can you incorporate those dreams into your older years?  Did you want to be a cowboy?  Visit a dude ranch or take riding lessons.  Did you want to be a ballerina?  Take dance lessons or get season tickets to the ballet.  Did you want to be a firefighter?  Find out about volunteer opportunities and fundraising for the local volunteer fire department.  Now is the time to be what you wanted to be when you grew up in whatever way you can physically and financially manage it.  

Dig a little deeper. What were your favorite hobbies and fun activities as a child?  Did you enjoy drawing?  Take an art class.  Did you enjoy cards and board games?  Find some other like-minded seniors and set up a weekly card game.  Did you like camping and hiking?  Kentucky has one of the best state parks systems in the nation with lots of easy trails and everything from primitive camping sites to those with electric and water hook-ups.  Take the grand-kids and get them away from the computer screen…no i-phones allowed.  

Dig even deeper.  Did you dream of traveling the world when you were a child?  Well, now’s the time.  The travel industry caters to older travelers because they know that is where the expendable income is.  Unpack once on a cruise ship and be ferried in grand style from one exotic location to another.  Take a bus tour of the Grand Canyon, fly to Ireland and stay in a bed and breakfast in Killarney or take a river cruise down the Danube River.  Or give more meaning to your travel by volunteering for a mission trip with your church.  

Branching Out  

For many Baby Boomers, blooming doesn’t mean retirement and leisure activities at all.  Many of us are happiest when we are working, so many of today’s retirees find themselves changing careers rather than embracing a traditional retirement of leisure.  The fact is people tend to be healthier and happier when they are working.  Retirement gives people a chance to do the work they’ve always wanted to do rather than just earning a living. 

 Many retirees start new small businesses, get their real estate licenses or go into teaching or other second careers.  Even in today’s tough jobs market, retirees are a unique and important consulting resource and some have turned that into lucrative second careers.  Boomers who have kept up with the computer revolution are setting up online businesses.  Others have turned arts and crafts hobbies into a fun travel opportunity and income stream as they head out on the road to arts and crafts fairs.   

Some Boomers are going back to school either to learn a new trade in anticipation of a new career or to take those classes they wish they had taken when they went to school as youngsters.  There is something to be said for the joy of learning for its own sake.    

For other retirees, volunteer opportunities offer the chance to “make a difference” in ways they didn’t have time to accomplish before. Thanks to the internet, record numbers of Boomers are becoming politically active as well as working in social causes.  Others are volunteering in their churches or for mission trips at home and abroad.  

            The bottom line for Boomers is that as long as we stay healthy, there is nothing stopping us.  Retirement is not a time to fade into the background.  It’s a time to start over and head into the second half of adult-hood…the half that doesn’t involve child rearing and financing our kids’ college educations.   

For Boomers who are branching out and blooming, the possibilities for growth are endless and exciting.