Evolving Priorities and Values of Baby Boomers

Immediately following World War II, which was won by what has come to be called our greatest generation, was a rapid growth of new babies in America. This exponential increase of childbirth took place from 1946 to 1954 and thus all of the people who were born during this period were classified by demographers and sociologists as baby boomers. Seven of the ten children born to my father and mother were born during this period of which I am included. The age range of baby boomers is from the age of sixty-four (64) to seventy-two (72). We are definitely aging and hopefully all of us are aging with grace and getting older, but not growing old. Growing old has a certain negative connotation to it that we do not want ascribed to us at this stage of our lives. It sounded alright when we were much younger and needed to grow up and mature and become more responsible. Now that we are on the north side of the big six zero (60), please tell us that we are getting older, but not growing old. In my book, “Growing Old in Newtown,” a memoir of my upbringing, I dealt with the positives and negatives of my childhood. Growing old back then was unavoidable. It was a matter of maturing and preparing for adulthood. Now that I have reached the age that I am, I have stopped growing old, though I will always be getting older.
This is a good point in our discussion to shift to the main objective of my column and comments today. There are four areas that we are going to briefly consider in regard to the evolving priorities of baby boomers that I believe will be of interest to you, especially if you are a baby boomer or have a loved one who is a baby boomer. I have tried to list each category in the order of their importance.

Healthcare
Invariably, what changes for mostly everyone as they age and become older, arguably, their number one priority and the thing they value more than anything else in life is their health. Except a person is mentally challenged or addicted to some bad and destructive habit (like smoking, drinking alcohol, or on drugs), they will naturally begin to become concerned about their body as it ages and slows down. Things I use to take for granted, like lifting certain objects that were quite heavy or getting up from my favorite chair or the toilet, is not the ease it use to be when I was younger. As a baby boomer, aging has brought with it a stark reality – one that was inevitable to knock at my door sooner or later. The old grey mule ain’t what he use to be! Like the engine of a car, our bodies cannot take the wear and tear or the strain and stress that they did when we were younger and in our prime. As a baby boomer, the sooner you realize that, the better off you will be and the longer you will live.
There was a time when many of us prided ourselves about not having to take medicine, not having to wear glasses, etc., but now that we have aged (not grown old), there is no pride or shame in our game about these things. Healthcare has become the number one priority in our lives because it stands to reason that if we are not healthy and well, every other function or obligation will come to a standstill.

Financial Security
It is said that the average person will spend the first half of their life losing their health in an endeavor to get wealth. They will spend the second and last part of their life losing and using their wealth in an effort to get their health back. Perhaps after our physical and mental state, financial security is the most important as we age. If we have been prudent and frugal with our money, we saw the day coming when we would have to either slow down or retire altogether. Having enough money to make it and supplement our retirement pension or social security benefits is something that must be considered and strategized about long before we reach the age of retirement. Regrettably, many have not lived a modest and frugal life, but wasted the portion of their weekly or monthly income on foolish and extravagant spending that they should have been saving or investing for retirement. I hope that all baby boomers and preceding generations will learn the importance of being good stewards over their money and practice being thrifty and conservative in their spending. One day, you are going to need that money that you are wasting on things that have no lasting value. Since financial security is a very important thing that you are going to need or wish you had one day, there is no time like the present to make it a priority. Though you may be late in doing it, it is never too late to start.

Family and Friends
As we age, especially into the sixties bracket, we begin to see things a little differently. Our perspectives and priorities change, or should I say, evolve. For the average person, things like family and friends take on a more important meaning. Not that these things were not important before, but the older we get, the more we begin to give greater emphasis and even effort to the building of family ties and friendship connections with those few enduring relationships that have survived and perhaps thrived over the years. Believe it or not, your legacy and memory is going to be perpetuated more by your family (children and grandchildren) and close friends than any other people (except you are famous). As my father lie upon his death bed knowing that he did not have but a very brief time left on this earth, we (my siblings and I) gathered around him to discuss and settle some unsettled family matters that we had some contention about that only he could solve. My brother, Randy, reminded him as he gave thought to the unresolved issues that at the end of the day, it would be us (his and my mother’s children) who would perpetuate his name and legacy. If there had been any indecision in him about the matter, those words dispelled it and my father did the right thing.

Religion, Hope,
and the Hereafter
The final thing that evolves in most of our lives as we age is our perspective of dying and the hereafter. My father, for example, never gave serious thought to dying and the hereafter until he contracted a terminal disease that would ultimately be the cause of his death. Many people do not give their life to God until they are faced with a terminal condition like my father. Had it not been for the sickness, my father would have no doubt been eternally lost. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ,
I am grateful that I am afforded the liberty and opportunity to occasionally share or allude to my Judeo-Christian convictions by the publishers and editor of The Dillon Herald. In an era when Biblical and Christian beliefs (that made this nation great) are under attack and being assaulted by enemies from within the church community, as well as the culture, we should be thankful that those behind the helm of control at The Herald are empathetic and adherents themselves of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Without any doubt in my opinion, the thing that ought to occupy a place of priority in all of our lives (regardless of our age) is the thought of where we are to spend eternity. The older I get, the more I think about going to heaven and the more the things of this world seem temporal and trivial.
Like the patriarch, Abraham, I am looking for a city whose maker and builder is God. I pray that you share my conviction about how to be ready and secure abut the hereafter and if not it is just a matter of believing on Jesus Christ.