The tweet read: “The Woodstock Generation rocks on in their golden years.”
Golden years? Are “you talkin’ to me?” Can’t be. I see this in your tweet or any messaging, and I think you are talking about an aunt or uncle. But not me.
I am a boomer. I am not a senior, nor am I elderly, and golden opportunities may peak my interest given a glass of wine. But golden years? You lost me there!
We were first identified as “baby boomers” in 1970. In tandem with that descriptor we have been called young adults, middle aged adults, and will soon answer to older adults. This year we are between the ages of 53 and 71. As with other generations, we have differing experiences, have accumulated varying amounts of wealth, may or may not work, and will stand firm regarding our political beliefs. But the timeframe of our birth and life differentiates us.
Some have called us idealistic, motivated, self-assured, resourceful and competitive; some have referred to us as morally challenged and selfish. Regardless, we are boomers. We love our parents, and we love our children. Our parents are seniors; our children are GenXs or maybe Millennials. We are boomers.
We have heard the stories of the elderly man killed in a car crash, the 66-year-old was alone in the car; or the grandmother struck when crossing the street near an intersection the 54-year-old was familiar with; or the elderly twins who plunged into icy waters as the 59-year-olds sent the ashes of their departed parents off the White Cliffs of Dover. Personal situations aside, when did these individuals become elderly?
We are invited to bring our parents to visit senior living communities because, after all, they are in their 80’s or 90’s. Do we consider living there one day? We may consider that invitation, when we are in our 80’s or 90’s. But until then, we are not seniors. After all, regardless of their wonderful amenities or activities or opportunities, such communities are generally embraced as senior living communities. So, you are not talking to us just yet.
So where do we go from here?
Over the past decade or so we have learned how to better work with and appreciate the contributions of people of varying ages in the workplace. The primary focus was on how employees could better understand and adapt to the needs and expectations of younger adults, although we taught them a lot about ourselves as well. Many of us used what we learned, and we believed we were successful in our efforts to bridge the workplace generation gaps. It took conversation, open-mindedness, and willingness to adapt to others’ needs and expectations.
We can do this too.
Senior living communities will not morph into older adult neighborhoods or Boomertown, USA , overnight. We would not want that. But, as with learning how to better appreciate the contributions of people of varying ages in the workplace, perhaps it is time to realize there are a lot of us out there. It would benefit all of us to learn more about each other. Are we really all that different? What are our needs and expectations over the coming years?
Perhaps we do what we can to help others learn from us. I know I would appreciate hearing older adult or boomer instead of elderly in describing people aged 53 to 71. We can take opportunities to let others know we are not as apt to respond to publications or programs that tout senior this or that, regardless of the stock photos used. How about we let local media know that baby boomers do not yet consider themselves elderly. Let’s look for friendly opportunities to help others learn about us.
Let’s lead the conversation.
But please, for now, let us keep our senior discounts…