At This Rate, They’ll Be In The Grave Before They Realize They Got Old

When you read that 76 percent of baby boomers “like to try new things,” you may take it as a sign they haven’t lost their youthful zest. Personally, I was struck with horror that my generation has reached the age at which researchers ask us whether we like new things. It wouldn’t dawn on a pollster, after all, to pose such a query to anybody who isn’t on the downhill slope toward decrepitude. The mere asking of the question—in this case, as part of a study by the BoomerEyes division of C&R Research—tells me more than I care to know about my age cohort.

Happily, the poll’s findings suggest that most boomers aren’t so easily daunted. (The research was fielded among respondents age 41-59.) For one thing, 75 percent “agreed completely” with the statement, “You are comfortable with your age.” And for all their supposed nostalgia about those glory days back in the ’60s, relatively few boomers feel past their prime: 39 percent agreed that their best years are “ahead of me” and another 39 percent said they’re “right now,” leaving just 22 percent to say their best years are “behind me.” While 36 percent conceded that they “feel tired and don’t have much energy,” they were outnumbered by the 61 percent who claim to “lead an active and busy lifestyle.”

Boomers’ relationship with new experiences is more complex than their willingness to “try new things” (cited above) would suggest. Just 20 percent agreed that “Many things change too fast these days—I wish things would stay the same.” Nonetheless, 67 percent subscribed to the statement, “You feel more comfortable with things you are familiar with.” While 74 percent are “comfortable with technology,” fewer (52 percent) said new technology “plays an important role” in their lives. Fewer still (19 percent) “like to be the first to purchase a new product or service.” Just 12 percent said they “care about what is in style and try to keep up with the trends.” (And yet, they always seem so chic!)

Naturally, this indifference to style and trends frees up many hours for other activities. When asked to cite various ways they spend their time, 65 percent of boomers said they allot some to athletics/sports. Only “work” garnered a larger constituency (75 percent). Among other activities that occupy boomer hours: going to the movies/ theater (cited by 65 percent), surfing the Web (64 percent), reading (64 percent), cooking (57 percent), music (54 percent), travel (49 percent), gardening (46 percent) and going to flea markets (43 percent). Sixty-four percent spend time with family. Twenty-five percent said they spend time caring for an elderly parent.