The baby boomer generation, a colorful, noteworthy slice of the American population is oft referred to in the media and with good reason. Between the years of 1946 and 1964, seventy six million babies were brought into this word, and quite literally, the baby boomers were born. Today it is estimated that those over 50 comprise of about 45% of the US population.
As the first boomers approach age 65 and subsequent retirement, there are many issues that affect this group that will have major ramifications for everyone else as well. The joint federal and state Medicaid and Medicare programs were designed with a much smaller senior demographic in mind and growing the program exponentially into the future, needless to say, will not be an easy task.
Young at heart. As a general rules, boomers tend to feel and behave much younger than the generation preceding them. Aside from the advances in medicine and the new emphasis on exercise and proper dieting, there is another factor that may cause boomers to have a “young at heart” attitude to life. Those who were born between 1946 and 1964 grew up in a world with much social upheaval including, the civil rights movement, the race into space, hip culture, the birth of Medicaid and Medicare, and the Beatles, resulting in a confidence that they can pretty much accomplish anything.
Having lived through all these societal advances may be a significant factor in boomers positive take on their own age. Their parent had not grown up during these times but rather before or during WWII, or even during the Great depression, and had a more serious, less fun-loving attitude on life. Many boomers find it hard to believe that being 60 years old can actually feel so young while their parents at the same age appeared and acted so much older.
Not everything in the lives of boomers is ‘a bowl of cherries’, though. According to a recent poll by AARP, about 70% of all boomers are worried about their lives in a variety of ways. Seniors came in at only 46% while younger people were at 50%. In order to understand this relatively new phenomenon, we need to take a closer look at some of the specifics:
Being inactive. Boomers having contributed much to the post-WWII economy, shaping the world economy as we know it today, and find it hard to imagine giving up their 9-5 work schedules. This is especially true given that many live highly active and social lifestyles which include jogging, swimming and baseball. The thought that sometime in the future their physical condition may not allow for the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to can be very frightening.
Finances and retirement. This is a top concern for many boomers and a leading source of anxiety and stress. With the ever-increasing life span, a boomer retiring at 65 may be looking at 25 years of retirement or more, which in some cases is more than the individual has worked in his lifetime. Many will be forced to delay retirement to 70 or even 75. While this plan may work for some boomers loathe to give up their active work schedules, not all boomers are so gung ho about working their golden years away.
Health. Boomers tend not to worry too much about their health and longevity and many 65 year olds think they will live well into their eighties or nineties. Indeed, according to recent government stats, the life expectancy of an individual currently 60 is to live until 84. There are some health concerns that should worry those 50 and up, though. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death for Americans 65 and older. About 5% of victims will begin seeing symptoms in their 50s or even 40s. “Recent studies suggest a close link between brain health and overall health of the heart and blood vessels,” says Dr. Abesamis, and regular cardiovascular checkups can help for an individual long-term mental as well as physical health.
Sandwich generation issues. Many boomers are in the sandwich generation, raising their own children while caring for their elderly parents. This places a tremendous stress on them as they are constantly being pulled in different directions and many opt to give up their full time job in favor of providing care for a loved one. This places an additional financial burden on the caregiver. Caregivers in the US have reached an historic 65 million, about 29% of the population, according to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
The Medicaid eligibility process is unduly complicated and frustrating, and many boomers choose to grapple with the staggering cost of providing long term care for a parent as opposed to trying to navigate the Medicaid maze. A crushing burden on an already overtaxed population, this situation can be alleviated by reaching out to an experienced Medicaid consultant who can answer any questions and relieve some of the financial and emotional strain
These are just some of the top issues that Boomers deal with on a day to day basis. With an American turning 50 about every 7 seconds, this segment of the population should be watched closely, as they will have a significant impact on the economy, government policy, and society at large.
Guest post written by
(This article written by Sarah Schwarcz originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog. Schwarcz is a Business Development Representative and staff Writer at Senior Planning Services, an industry leader in guiding seniors and their families through the Medicaid maze. Sarah loves nature, blogging, and spending time with her family. )
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