The tough economy has placed an additional burden on Baby Boomers in the workplace. Whereas many Boomers had planned on a typical retirement at the age of sixty-five, financial woes are keeping them on the job longer. For some, this is causing increased stress.
A USA Today article by Anita Bruzzese describes how job, retirement and financial stress have impacted the Boomer generation. (Bias disclosure: I was interviewed for the article.)
There was a time when people took for granted that they could retire at the age of sixty-five. Certainly, this was how I grew up understanding the work world: people worked, retired and lived on Social Security. They might then take up hobbies such as golf in order to enjoy their retirement. Though I am aware that such ideas are somewhat class based, even people in the lower middle-classes used to have an idea that you worked hard your whole life and were allowed time to rest and receive financial support in the latter part of your life.
My, how the world has changed.
Many Boomers don’t know when, if or how they will ever retire. Most Boomers have a number of financial worries, with a major concern being not knowing how long they will live and how much money they need to retire. As healthcare costs skyrocket and Boomers contemplate the very real possibility that they may need long-term care at some point, many simply don’t know how much money is enough.
Though some may say that the Boomers are not a unique generation, these kinds of worries are simply unprecedented. The life expectancy of people born in 1920 was fifty-four! Some people born around 1920 are the age of Boomers’ parents.
Most Baby Boomers did not grow up expecting an unfamiliar and insecure horizon regarding lifespan and finance. This ambiguous time is unchartered waters for many. Boomers are the first major generation to experience these anxieties. The reality is, we are all to follow them and will soon know what they are going through.
I just hope that we don’t continue to watch and wait regarding how this will turn out for the Boomer generation. Baby Boomers have set enough precedents. It is not unreasonable to think collectively as a society about how we are going to help them navigate through these tentative times.