EUGENE, Ore. — Look around any shop or major business in the Eugene area, and you still see silver haired workers.
In fact, the Eugene area “Baby Boomers” are not going gently into that good night. Instead, they are working and working and “not even thinking of retiring with this economy,” says Joan who at age 67 still works “has hard as I did in my youth.”
At the same time, it was “noticed” at the recent Oregon Country Fair that there were many more Boomers than teens or 20 somethings. In turn, the Boomers said they attened the “Fair” to reconnect with old friends, have a good time and “take a break from work.”
Boomers choosing not to retire as means of staying in good health
Cathy’s allure is as mysterious as it is personal; she’s a “Baby Boomer” who says she acts and feels young because “I won’t ever retire and I won’t ever view myself as old, and yet I’m a young 67.”
Cathy is one of thousands of “Baby Boomers” who descend upon the famed “Oregon Country Fair” here in the Eugene suburb of Veneta to strut their stuff as “not old,” quips Cathy with humor that glinted behind her eyes as she walks and talks under her grandma’s parasol throughout the Fair’s elaborate network of trails and medieval looking structures that are specially built on this 100 plus acre site to provide access to the stages, campsites and shops that cater to Cathy and other Boomers while also opening the eyes of younger folk who long to understand just want happened to their parents or grandparents back in the Sixties.
“Well, you know, what happened to me in 1969 when both Woodstock and the Oregon Country Fair began, is I fell in love with life. And, I’ve maintained that love for people, experiencing things and all that life has in store for us. For me, and I guess other Boomers, the glass is now half full and not half empty.”
Meanwhile, Cathy passes a group of young people who don’t seem to have an iPhone with them. “That’s a good sign. That’s peer pressure. That’s us Boomer not bringing our tech stuff with us to the Fair, and the kids are doing likewise. We all need a break from that stuff. We need to survive and succeed as people first and not something that’s projected on a iPhone or computer screen.”
Boomers wish they were young
Cathy and other Boomers admit that it’s hard to believe that they were once teens and in their twenties during the Sixties. “And now we’re seniors,” adds Cathy with a big laugh.
In fact, a recent NPR report noted that there are “7,000 Boomers a day who will be turning 65 in 2011.”
“Sixty-five used to be the age when Americans stopped working, kicked back and embarked on serious leisure to make up for all those decades of the daily grind. But just like with every other stage of life they’ve gone through, baby boomers are expected to transform how we think about “retirement,” explains Steve Cone, executive vice president of AARP on this “over 50” organization’s website.
Leading the way are Cathy and her friends who are also in their mid-60’s, but wishing they were young.
“It’s so true that youth is wasted on the young. Oh, how I wish I were 20 something again,” explains Pam, 63, who adds that her grandson Terry “didn’t want to come to the Fair because he wanted to play his video games.”
“My God, it’s one of the most beautiful days of the year today at the Fair. It’s a cool 72 or 73 degrees with the sun shining and a breeze off the river nearby. It’s heaven here on Earth with all these joyous people, and my grandson Terry would rather be in a dark room blasting car thieves,” explains Pam with a sense of chagrin.
Boomers not happy during this time of recession and high tech craze
According to a recent AARP survey of Baby Boomers, here’s where their heads are at:
- Seventy-eight percent of those turning 65 in 2011 say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives today.
- About 40 percent believe they are about where they expected to be at this point in terms of their financial security and health.
- Overall, 70 percent say they’ve achieved all or most of what they wanted out of life; 26 percent say they have achieved some of what they wanted. Only 3 percent say they have achieved little or none of what they wanted out of life.
- On average, boomers turning 65 in 2011 expect to live until they are 85.2 years old. This is only 3.5 years short of the average length of time they want to live — 88.7 years.
- The perennial goals of financial security, better health, travel and time with family/friends are gifts boomers want. But financial security (25 percent) and physical health (35 percent) are also paramount as things they want to improve in the next five years.
- Taking better care of oneself, spending more time with family, traveling, volunteering and making time for interests and hobbies were most often mentioned when boomers were asked what non-employment changes they have planned.
Also, in this AARP poll of people hitting 65 in 2011, Cone says, 40 percent have no intention of retiring.
“The 40 percent is a much larger group than any generation before the boomers,” he says. “But the other factor we see in the poll is that a lot of people feel they have to keep working.”
In fact, when AARP asked what the best 65th birthday gift would be, the top answer was “financial security.”