Baby Boomers Perceptions of Life After Retirement: A Focus on Work & Leisure


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Paula\'s Master\'s Thesis Defense & Research Findings: "Baby Boomers Perceptions of Life After Retirement: A Focus on Work & Leisure"

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Baby Boomers Perceptions of Life After Retirement: A Focus on Work & Leisure

  1. 1. Presented by Paula K. Frakes<br />For Master’s Degree in Gerontology<br />Bethel University<br />Thesis Defense on May 20, 2010 <br />Baby Boomers Perceptions of Life After Retirement: A Focus on Work & Leisure<br />
  2. 2. Are they ready?<br />
  3. 3. How many Boomers in Minnesota?<br />The 2010 total projected population for the state of Minnesota is 5,420,636<br />Of that total population 1,629,219 are between the ages of 45 to 69, or 30% of the total population<br />45-49 = 410,587<br />50-54 = 402,292<br />55-59 = 344,833<br />60-64 = 275,600<br />65-69 = 195,907<br />In 2010 the number of people 70 to 85+ in Minnesota is 474,522 or 9% of total population<br />Of this total 114, 909 are 85+ (we have a lot of seniors to care for already!)<br /><br />Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Interim State Population Projections, 2005<br /> Internet Release Date: April 21, 2005<br />
  4. 4. The purpose of this document is to explore a sample of Baby Boomer’s in the Twin Cities area and find out their perceptions of what they envision their retirement years to be like, specifically as this relates to work opportunities and leisure activities. <br />I am also interested in observing the extent to which they have thought about and planned for their future in regards to the areas of work and leisure. <br />Boomers Perceptions of Life After Retirement?<br />
  5. 5. What many are short sighted on is the reality of how long they may potentially live. Due to changes in healthcare and increased longevity, their retirement years could easily consist of another third of their life span.<br />This subject area came to my attention as I informally spoke with many of my Boomer friends and my own family members and realized that, although most all of them had to some extent considered the financial aspects of their retirement, <br />many had not formally or purposely planned for what they would be doing with their time in terms of formal and informal work and leisure opportunities during these years.<br />
  6. 6. I believe there needs to be a greater emphasis on lifelong planning for the retirement years which includes not only financial aspects, but also exploring options for work opportunities, leisure pursuits and the importance of maintaining and growing new relationships all from a “grass roots” level. <br />One of the ways I envision this happening is by offering easily accessible educational opportunities on these subjects made available to them in their places of worship. <br />A key finding I hoped to discover was if the Baby Boomers I surved were receptive to this idea, and if they felt this was an appropriate and comfortable setting to explore these lifelong planning options. <br />As boomers are exposed to various opportunities that are available to them and realize their potential to serve, the mission field is a great place to reach out and touch others in powerful and meaningful ways utilizing their gifts and skills, all in the name of Christ’s love! <br />
  7. 7. Some questions I wished to address in this paper were:<br />How will the Baby Boomers approach their retirement years? <br />What are their expectations in regards to work and leisure activities during this time?<br />What current economic factors and societal expectations are influencing their decisions on when and how to retire?<br />How will they use their time in this stage of their life?<br />To what extent have they thought about and prepared for the leisure and work aspects of their retirement years?<br />What sources are they seeking out to assist them in understanding and preparing for this major life transition?<br />
  8. 8. What is retirement? <br />The answer to that question has definitely changed since the members of the “Greatest Generation”, those who were born between 1914 and 1924, have retired. <br />To the greatest generation retirement, or as some refer to it “the golden years”, were well earned and thought to be lived as a life of leisure, a time to finally “kick back” and enjoy the life they had earned. <br />Their retirement was the time in their life that was meant to be lived free from work(Freedman, 2007).<br />
  9. 9. New Retirement = Freedom to work<br />“Retirement as we have known it is in the midst of being displaced as the central institution of the second half of life. It is being supplanted by a new stage of life opening up between the end of midlife and the arrival of true old age, a period that essentially amounts to the second half of life… The new phase under development is every bit as much a new stage of work” <br />(Freedman, 2007, p. 9). <br />
  10. 10. “While many boomers no longer wish to work full-time, they are not prepared to be ‘put out to pasture’ either” (Winston, N.A., Barnes, J., 2007, p. 139).<br />Many say they wish to retire at whatever age that the numbers say would be best for them financially, which typically averages out to be around age 64, and then re-enter the workforce in an entirely new job or career, as part-time workers. <br />This group is looking for a balance between work and leisure in their retirement–for greater self-fulfillment than the traditional model offered. <br />
  11. 11. The Topics Covered in Literature Review<br />The Life Course Theory of Aging <br />Definition of Generations Alive Today <br />The Role of Work in the Encore Years <br />The Role of Volunteering <br />Recession Effects on Retirement Perceptions <br />The Role of Health Perceptions and Costs <br />Effects of Burnout on Retirement Planning<br />Ageism in the Workplace <br />Leisure in Retirement <br />Travel Options in Retirement <br />
  12. 12. Methods & Data Findings<br />The qualitative research method for this study included a focus group that was conducted at a northern suburban church of the Twin Cities metro area. <br />The information learned from this focus group then led to the quantitative research method for this study which included sending out an e-mail survey of questions to broader number of baby boomers that lived in the wider Twin Cities metro area. <br />
  13. 13. Focus Group Methods<br />Two Hour Focus Group conducted at my church in northern suburb<br />Group consisted of 9 participants 7 females and 2 males<br />The age range of this group was between ages 54 to 64<br />Some in the group had retired within the past year while most were still working full time <br />Each participant was assigned a number 1 through 9 when they signed in for the discussion session and the recorder used these numbers to indicate the participant’s responses in her recording. (Special Thank You to Angela for her help!)<br /> Sex and the year of birth also recorded and coordinated with the number they were assigned for the discussion.<br />It is important to note that the participants in this focus group only covered the last half of the baby boom generation. Younger baby boomers, between the ages of 46 to the early 50’s, were not represented.<br />
  14. 14. Questions Asked of this Group<br />Three Key Themes in <br />this study:<br />Perceptions of Retirement<br />Shape of Retirement<br />Preparations for Retirement<br />
  15. 15. What does retirement mean to you?<br />What aspects of your life do you feel are important to plan for? <br />Freedom<br />Exploration<br />“Refirement” (Gambone, 2000)<br />Need for Transition time<br />Opportunity to get caught up on chores<br />Need to establish clear boundaries regarding your work opportunities, volunteer time and relationships!<br />Finances<br />Building new relationships with others so that one does not become isolated or alone as they age & value of friendships old & new<br />How to maintain good relationships with their spouses once they were both retired <br />Planning for possible health scenarios that come into play with the aging process <br />Adapting current housing to accommodate aging in place<br />Relocation to other cities or states<br />Healthcare coverage issues<br />Focus Group Findings on Perceptions of Retirement<br />
  16. 16. To what extent have you thought about or planned for how you will spend your time and what you will do with your life? <br />What do you feel will give you the greatest sense of satisfaction and happiness in your life? <br />Focus Group Findings on Perceptions of Retirement<br />It seemed that about half of them had done some thinking about it and had attended workshops or read over information provided in their work place. <br />The other half had not really done much formal thinking about it. Overall it seemed that outside of financial planning and perhaps some thought about their healthcare needs, They really had not thought much about the other issues of work or leisure activities that are the focus of this study. <br />Staying engaged with community<br />“I think the greatest thing we can give during our retirement is our time.” <br />Taking classes on subjects of interest, and exploring artistic values and interests<br />Sharing their gifts, especially with younger people in their family, church and broader community <br />Finding balance in the time spent with their spouse or partner vs. the time they spend doing their own things<br />
  17. 17. To what age do you perceive yourself working full time, part time, or not at all?” <br />What type of work do you see yourself doing in your retirement years?<br />Most all responded with answers that related to official government policies that dictated when they would be eligible to receive their Social Security and Medicare benefits<br />Those that mentioned working until age 70 also mentioned needing to do so for financial reasons<br />Others also mentioned work policies that were incentivizing them to retire early<br />One female participant also mentioned wanting to retire from full time work at age 60 and then work a second part-time job until she was age 65. <br />After this she planned to do volunteer work at the school where she worked and also take some mission trips and give back to the world in ways she had not previously had the time to do because of her work obligations. <br />Several of them said that they would like to volunteer or do a combination of volunteer work and part-time work for pay; it all depended on their financial position at the time of their retirement.<br />They all seemed to agree of the importance of staying active and involved with the working world in some shape or fashion. <br />They felt this would help stave off boredom and also keep them mentally and physically healthy and active longer into their retirement years. <br />Focus Group Findings on Shape of Retirement<br />
  18. 18. What leisure activities do you wish to engage in? <br />Leisure Activities & Travel<br />There were answers from learning about how to decorate cakes, bird watching, dancing and a variety of other activities that are typical in many ways of active people who wished to be engaged in life.<br />They also all agreed that travel was definitely something they looked forward to, but some said that finances could dictate the frequency and extent of what and where they decide to go and what they would be able to do in their travels. <br />They all liked the idea of having the freedom in retirement to take trips and not have to necessarily be on a deadline to get anywhere by any specific time, unlike the travel schedules they had to adhere to when they were still working full time. <br />Focus Group Findings on Shape of Retirement<br />
  19. 19. What sources have you sought out, if any, in terms of helping you to prepare for retirement ?<br />Do you foresee any barriers to you meeting your retirement goals? <br />Focus Group Findings on Preparation for Retirement<br />Talking with peers, friends or family members that had already experienced transitioning into retirement<br />Work sources or community education that offer classes on pre-retirement <br />A financial planner <br />For travel preparation Elder Hostel, which is now named Exploritas<br />Finances, not having enough money<br />Ageism, employers do not want to hire them for either full or part-time jobs due to their age<br />Unforeseen heath issues that can arise as we all age<br />Time itself as a barrier; having enough time to do all that they wanted to do while they were still capable of doing these activities.<br />Importance of establishing a “Bucket list”of things that they would like to do so that they truly did accomplish what was most important to them before they could no longer physically do such things. <br />
  20. 20. On-line Survey Methods<br />On line survey utilizing the Qualtrics survey tool<br />Questions in this survey were loosely based on the comments and perceptions shared in the focus group session as well as information gleaned from the literature review for this project<br /> The researcher sent the on line survey to two panel groups of participants: (1) 220 contacts from the researcher’s personal e-mail address book (2) 180 Baby Boomer members of the researcher’s home church <br /> The total number of surveys that were sent out was 400 <br />157 surveys were completed for a return rate of 39%<br />It is important to note that not all the respondents answered all the questions. Some questions were left unanswered throughout the survey, thus the statistical information for each question that the researcher addresses in the analysis may have varied total responses numbers that do not match the total number of participants that returned the survey<br />
  21. 21. The greatest number of returned responses came from the middle and older age boomers, with the middle boomers ages 51 to 58 having the highest return of the survey. <br />Demographics<br />I divided the baby boomers into three different age groups.<br />The younger boomers ages 46 -50, <br />The middle boomers ages 51 to 58<br /> The older boomers ages 59 to 64. <br />Figure 1 shows the resulting response rates of each of these age groups to the online survey. <br />
  22. 22. Table 2: Participant Response by Gender <br />When looking at the gender of the participants that returned in the survey women respondents outnumbered the male respondents almost two to one. <br />The relational status of the participants can also influence their perceptions of their retirement years. <br />In this survey 114 or 73% of the 156 total respondents were married. <br />The second highest status was divorced/single with 19 respondents or 12% of the 156 total. <br />Of the 151 participants that responded to educational status ? 100 of them had a four year degree or higher. Of this 100 with higher degrees: 44 of them had a four year degree, 45 of them had a master’s degree 11 had a PhD 41 had either a 2year degree or some formal education after high school 10 participants that had not attended school beyond high school.<br />
  23. 23. Of the 145 participants that responded to the Occupational Status question: <br />95 working full time <br />23 were self employed <br />10 were working part time<br />2 were unemployed and looking for work <br />3 were living on disability<br />12 were retired<br />Occupational Status<br />
  24. 24. When asked the question about the need for formal planning in regards to their retirement the majority agreed that there was a need to plan. <br />But there were also some that preferred to plan things as they go along.<br />Thoughts on Planning For Retirement<br />
  25. 25. Healthcare coverage was also of highest concern, especially having enough money to cover the possible health related scenarios that may play out in their lives as they age. <br />Over all I was somewhat surprised by the low numbers regarding concerns that the respondents expressed! <br />Top Five Concerns about Retirement Years<br />
  26. 26. It is the researcher’s belief that this lack of concern for these issues is, in part, a result of our age segregated society. Unless one is in close proximity or relationship with elders in our current society, they are not really consciously aware of the old age issues that one faces, especially as one ages well into their 80’s, 90’s and beyond. <br />By not having exposure to the consequences of isolation, aloneness and potential caregiving issues that one faces as they age, it makes it easier to live in a state of denial about the aging process itself and many of the real life concerns for our elders in our culture today. <br />Top Five Least Concerns about Retirement Years<br />
  27. 27. Sources Sought for Preparation of Retirement <br />The results of this crosstab indicate that the top three sources that Baby Boomers are seeking out for their retirement years in order of highest response are:<br />Financial Planner<br />Friends or Peers that have already retired<br />Family members<br />More men 72% than women 61% have financial planners<br />About 20% of both men and women have not sought out any sources about retirement at the time they participated in this survey <br />Overall the results of this survey show that there is room for improvement for baby boomers in terms of seeking out sources to help them plan for their retirement! <br />
  28. 28. Number of Hours they wish to Work After Retirement by Age Category<br />In this study 80% of the men responded that they intend to work after retirement vs. <br />72% of the females saying that they intend to work<br />
  29. 29. Number of Volunteer Hours per Week by Age Range<br />In this study 96% of the females said that they intended to volunteer vs. <br />88% of the males that said yes to volunteering after retirement. <br />
  30. 30. Leisure in Retirement<br />Leisure and retirement seem to go hand in hand. I was most curious to find out: <br />(1) What leisure activities baby boomers were most interested in participating<br />(2) What the difference in their interest in participation comparingbefore retirement and afterretirement<br />The higher the differences between before and after retirement may indicate some trends and potential areas of growth in these leisure areas coming up in the next several years as the baby boomers head into retirement. <br />
  31. 31. Boomers increasingly want to enjoy special interest travel that caters to new and innovative ‘hands on’ experiences. One of the reasons for this is that they are reaching the age where they prefer to buy experiences rather than material possessions.(Patterson, I., Pegg, S., 2009, p. 267)<br />Boomers are also seeking ways to enrich their lives and find ways to help them feel young again (Carter, 2000). They also want to engage in exciting and adventurous activities in which they may include their younger family members (Patterson, I., Pegg, S., 2009).<br />Comparison of Travel Options Before and After Retirement<br />
  32. 32.
  33. 33. Nature related activities are of some interest to this group. Perhaps this reflects the many opportunities that we have in Minnesota to participate is such activities… <br />Cultural heritage and events around such topics continue to be popular <br />Specialized Leisure Interests<br />
  34. 34. Unfortunately very few have planned for the social and recreational aspects of their retirement. As stated in one study: <br />“Less than ten percent in the study had done any preparation beyond the financial planning.<br />Yet almost everyone interviewed in this study admitted that they would have benefited greatly from some education about how to develop a social portfolio for their retirement years.” (Cohen, 2005, p. 144) <br />Music & Performing Arts Interests<br />
  35. 35.
  36. 36. When asked the question “Are you currently a member or do you regularly participate in a religious community - i.e. church, parish, synagogue, mosque or temple?” <br />78% percent of the156 respondents replied Yes.<br />*******************************<br /> When asked the question, “If your religious community offered a class, seminar or support group for those approaching retirement regarding the common issues one needs to plan for in their retirement years, would you consider participating in it?”<br />Interest to Participate in Class at Place of Worship<br />
  37. 37.
  38. 38. Concluding Thoughts on Perceptions of Retirement<br />Retirement is in many ways an extension of the work, hobbies and interests they already were participating in prior to reaching the official age of retirement.<br />Work in retirement was not viewed solely for the financial gain that it would bring, but more as a way to help keep the individuals active physically and mentally, and to help fulfill their sense of purpose in life. <br />What they wanted to do with their time in retirement was as varied as the individuals themselves, but the key theme was that they saw themselves as staying engaged and active in life.<br />Retirement is a time to explore new ideas and options regarding passions and causes in their lives that they now have the time to participate in and help effect positive change where necessary. <br />It is also a time to explore and reaffirm current relationships as well as build and expand on new relationships with family members, peers and individuals from other generations. <br />
  39. 39. Work in Retirement<br />Volunteering in Retirement<br />75% of the respondents said that they intended to work part time on average between 11 to 20 hours per week after they fully retired from their full time positions. Where?<br />Contract with old employer<br />Areas totally different than their full time employment<br />Apply present skills to non-profit area for work options<br />What employers need to prepare for in terms of their work policies regarding older workers is the increased demand to work more flexible hours and job sharing opportunities. <br />A slight trend that the closer one got to retirement the percentages of the older Boomers that said they were planning to volunteer after retirement was less than the younger Boomers<br />A higher % of women said that they planned to volunteer after retirement than men<br />The researcher feels that the difference between male and female attitudes towards work and volunteering in the retirement years is an area that is definitely worthy of further research. <br />The majority of them said they wish to volunteer between 1 to 5 hours per week<br />There will be a need to streamline the volunteer opportunities to be very flexible and precise in terms of meeting the desires of future volunteers from the boomer generation. <br />Concluding Thoughts on Shape of Retirement<br />
  40. 40. Travel Options<br />General Leisure Pursuits <br />The results of this study strongly supported previous research and literature findings regarding the increased interest of baby boomers to seek out educational travel opportunities and intergenerational family trips with their children and grandchildren<br />The results of this study (not previously researched to any extent) show that there is also a significant interest and desire on the part of the baby boomers that are involved with a place of worship to participate in mission trips after they retire.<br />This is an interesting finding and one that places of worship should take note of and address within their options in this area of their mission trip ministries. <br />Results of this study once again support previous research and literature in regards to baby boomer’s increased interest in intellectual and educational opportunities on subjects of personal interests and passions in their retirement years. <br />The researcher sees growing need and opportunities for appropriate organizations (colleges, universities, community education, and even places of worship) to continue to expand their educational options to the 50+ adults and seek out, survey and take note of the interests and passions of the baby boomer generation in order to best meet their needs in the coming years. <br />Concluding Thoughts on Leisure in Retirement<br />
  41. 41. Concluding Thoughts on Leisure in Retirement<br />This study supports previous research and literature that shows an increase interest on the part of Baby Boomers in participating in formal exercise classes that may be offered at community centers, churches or fitness clubs in their retirement years<br />A decreased interest in participating in group sports such as softball, volleyball and basketball and also some of the higher risk for injury sports activities like skiing, marathon running etc.<br />Over all there is definitely room for growth in the leisure industries that will cater to the interests and passions of the Baby Boomers. <br />There is also room for growth in intergenerational leisure activities so that the Baby Boomers can continue to build their relationships and share their interests with younger family members and friends. <br />
  42. 42. Concluding Thoughts on Preparations for Retirement <br />The number one source was a financial planner, followed by talking with friends, peersand family members that had already retired. <br />Culturally, we have overtly stressed to future retirees the necessity to be financially prepared for retirement, and many, but not all of them, have gotten the message.<br />Businesses also need to realize the economic and social value and contribution that the Baby Boomer generation has made and is making to our society at large.<br />If the Boomers move too quickly into full or even partial retirement, due to their sheer numbers alone, there could be potential negative economic consequences as a result.<br />There is a need for a paradigm shift away from the “out dated” views (left over from previous generations) regarding business and government policies as they relate to older workers in the workforce and the issues that these workers face as they desire to work longer into the traditional retirement years. <br />
  43. 43. Concluding Thoughts on Preparations for Retirement <br />It is the researcher’s belief that there needs to be more of an overall societal and cultural push to encourage the Baby Boomers to explore the other important areas of future lifelong planning issues such as civic engagement, social, emotional and relational transitions and expectations, as well as work and volunteer options for their retirement years.<br /> Lifelong planning sources that include more than just the financial aspects need to be emphasized and encouraged more overtly to all individuals approaching their retirement years long before they reach the official age of retirement. <br />These sources also need to be easily accessible to them in environments that Baby Boomers and other future retirees are comfortable talking about and sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions as they consider these important aspects of their ongoing life planning journey through their retirement years.<br />
  44. 44. Application of Findings <br />Based on the results of this study, it is this researcher’s opinion that one of the ways to capitalize on the Baby Boomers interests in seeking out friends, peers and family members as sources for information on their retirement experiences is to offer a class on life planning options in their place of worship. <br />It will be easily accessible, affordable and will meet the needs of the interested Baby Boomers in a setting that they are already comfortable with seeking out resources on how to lead their lives as they continue along their life’s journey<br />One possible outcome of this class that the researcher hopes to see realized in the church community is more unintentional and purposeful intergenerational activities occurring among the church members. <br />This could potentially also lead to greater intergenerational outreach opportunities beyond the church community to the broader community around the place of worship. <br />It is the researcher’s desire to help facilitate this class at her place of worship sometime before the spring of 2011. <br />
  45. 45. Are they ready?<br />
  46. 46. After conducting the literature review and the qualitative and quantitative research for this study, the researcher has concluded that the better question to ask is, <br />“Are we ready for them?”<br />As a culture and as individuals there is need to act now and move in a direction that will help us utilize the skills, talents and passions of this Baby Boom generation. <br />The potential for positive cultural change is there, if we are willing to seek out ways to be flexible and welcome the change they bring with hearts and minds that are open and willing to grow along with them and empower them to reach their fullest potential. <br />