At Age 62, Sounding Grownup

Listen to Dennis Hopper in those retirement-planning commercials and you might suppose the oldest baby boomers are a bunch of unreconstructed Aquarians. A report from MetLife’s Mature Market Institute yields a different picture, based on polling of those who turn 62 this year (making them eligible for Social Security checks).

Sandra Timmermann, the institute’s director, writes that these leading-edge boomers are “very much like the ‘Silent Generation’ that preceded them,” having settled into “very traditional lifestyle characteristics.” A majority of them report being married just once, averaging 2.4 children. Most are now empty nesters, as fewer than one in five have kids living with them.

Fourteen percent are caregivers for elderly relatives. While surveys have shown many boomers intend to work after their formal retirement, this does not mean retirement has lost its basic appeal for them. When asked what they like best about turning 62, retirement (or getting close to it) was high on the list. The worst aspects were physical, including disability, wrinkles and aches/pains.

Not that these boomers think they’re old, mind you. Indeed, they don’t expect that term to fit them until they reach age 78, on average. In this respect, at least, they fit the stereotype of the youth-fixated boomer. By the way, they have mixed feelings about the term “baby boomer.” Seventeen percent dislike it and 38 percent merely like it somewhat, while 45 percent like it outright. So, better be careful in using it.