Baby boomers are more concerned with the ways that aging impacts their physical and mental health than the role it plays in their appearance. Fully 65 percent of baby boomers – who are currently between the ages of 47 and 65 — expressed concern with their health, with 26 percent focused on retaining their mental faculties. Just eight percent mentioned appearance as their biggest aging concern.
Boomers also are slightly less active than the previous generation. Just 57 percent started a regular exercise program in 2010. Of those who exercise regularly, 35 percent are walkers. Nearly 4.3 million adults 50 or older used illicit drugs in the last year, according to a report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. According to the agency, substance abuse in this age group could create public health challenges over the next decade.
Boomers are in less agreement about whether their longer lives will be better than the previous generation: 49 percent expect a better life than their parents, while another 25 percent believe it will be about the same. Another 26 percent expect that the quality of their lives will be worse than their parents.
Although younger adults believe that 60 is the start of old age, Baby Boomers strongly disagree. The median age they cite is 70. Twenty-five percent of Boomers insist you’re not old until you’re 80. “In my 20s, I would have thought the 60s were bad, but they’re not so bad at all,” said Lynn Brown, 64, a retired legal assistant and grandmother of 11 living near Phoenix. Boomers – 77 million strong — are celebrating their 47th through 65th birthdays in 2011. In general, they are more optimistic about their futures than past generations. Americans born in the population boom that followed World War II are more likely to be energized about the positive aspects of aging, such as retirement, than worried about the negatives, such as poor health.
“The findings that midlifers who are worried about aging are focused more on their health over physical looks may seem surprising to some — but then when you see stunning boomer role models like Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren, it all makes sense,” said Cindy Pearlman, entertainment writer for the Chicago Sun Times and best-selling author of “The Black Book of Hollywood Beauty Secrets” series, and regular contributor to LifeGoesStrong.com’s Style channel. “Even in a town like Hollywood, where you’d expect nips and tucks everywhere you turn, many celebrities are saying that the secret to looking great at any age is accepting the inevitable changes that the years bring, while staying in shape and embracing your own sense of style.”
Many baby boomers have no problem working till they’re 65 or 70 as long as they’re not doing heavy lifting. A majority are enthusiastic about aging and have less concerns about physical ailments than their parents’ generation. Tom Beumont understands that the current status of Social Security will require him to work longer, but he is fine with that. “We kind of learned from our parents…we have a more diverse background and we also exercise more so that’s more important to us”, Beumont said.
Cindy Black, a nurse, said a lot of the people she sees at a clinic work too much. “I think we are burning the candle at both ends. They went to bed earlier back then and drank more water,” Black said. Black said that while baby boomers exercise more than their parents and drink and smoke less, their fast paced lifestyle has a price. According to Black, Boomers might end up working themselves to death, literally. “They laugh when I tell them this but they need to go to bed by 10 o’clock.”
Baby Boomers are also concerned about their independence. Boomers primarily worry about losing their independence because of illness, while 44 percent are concerned about experiencing memory loss. Approximately 41 percent have concerns about remaining financially self-sufficient. The hedonistic Boomer generation forever changed the social scene with the dawning age of the flower child, and the explosion of the sexual revolution during the 1960s and 1970s.
Just 18 percent of Boomers worry about dying, while another 22 percent are moderately concerned about it. More than two-thirds expect to live to at least age 76, and one in six expects to live into their 90s.