For the generation that was labeled Baby Boomers — due to an unparalleled number of births that continued from 1946 and 1964 — the phrase “the Sixties” will take on a fresh connotation beginning this year.
Up until now “the ‘60’s” conjured memories of a tumultuous decade when the eldest Boomers reached adulthood. Baby Boomers went on to revolutionize culture and fashion, politics and almost every facet of daily life ever since. From this day forward, however, it will start becoming their age!
This year will be a landmark for nearly three million Americans born after World War II. In 2006, the first wave of post-WW II babies celebrates its 60th birthday. (Unfortunately, about 17 percent of Baby Boomers never made it to their 59th birthday.)
In the years to come, tens of millions will celebrate their 60th birthday. A small percentage of boomers has already retired from full-time jobs. In a few years, some will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare, plus other benefits for senior citizens.
Among the first celebrities to reach the auspicious number was actress Diane Keaton. She became an icon for her generation through several memorable movie roles, particularly the free-spirited, title character in Woody Allen’s classic “Annie Hall.” Other notables who’ll reach the big 6-0 this year include First Lady Laura Bush, billionaire Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner, “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, singers Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Bette Midler and Liza Minnelli and actors Sylvester Stallone and Tommy Lee Jones.
More health conscious and exercise-minded than their predecessors, some boomers appear younger than previous generations did at their age. Nonetheless, about 30 percent are considered obese by health experts, which could shorten their lives and result in excessive medical costs. Some, luckily, seem to be aging more gracefully, no doubt with the help of cosmetic surgery and a glut of products aimed at maintaining youthful appearances. No matter what one looks like, when you reach 60, it’s the autumn of life.
Some boomers quietly became AARP — American Association of Retired People — members, when the lobbying group solicited them after they reached 50 and were years from retirement. AARP even dropped the name of its monthly magazine — Modern Maturity — which sounded like it was for “older” people. It is now simply called AARP—The Magazine.
Older boomers are no longer the most sought after consumers as they had been for decades most likely because the responsibilities of family and careers have replaced free-spending binges of youth.
Boomers seeking a suitable movie these days find it as difficult as unearthing a needle in a haystack since most films are exclusively marketed to the under-30 crowd.
Changes in the media also reflect a neglect of baby boomers. Classic rock, which became the soundtrack to many boomers’ lives and an FM radio staple for more than 20 years, is practically non-existent, except on satellite radio, which likely won’t attract budget-conscious boomers.
Disappointingly, some cherished classic rock songs are now used to hawk dozens of products. I’ve been especially conscious of late of a flood of television commercials that employ classic rock and roll music. Nevertheless, those songs, which became signposts for some Boomers, no longer hold that special nostalgic sensation. It makes me cringe!
For the generation that once vowed not to trust anyone over 30 to be entering their seventh decade is, indeed, a milestone, especially considering the free-and-easy lifestyles a few of them lived. Some vowed — and tried — to change the world, insisting they would never adhere to society’s conventions, but consistently wore similar, uniform-like attire. Regardless of the image they’ve left, most boomers watched as the world changed and events shaped their lives. Yet, as they aged, for an overwhelming majority of baby boomers the idealism of youth transformed into maturity and the necessity to conform to some of society’s traditions.
It’s estimated that every 10 seconds a Baby Boomer will turn 60. One wonders when they get together with friends to celebrate the momentous birthday, will they reminisce about the prevalent openness and trust in vogue during the ‘60s or where they were when they first heard about the decades’ landmark events? Or will these sexagenarians don reading glasses to look at old photographs and discuss their latest ailments, aches and pains?
Whatever the decade of the ‘60s meant to Baby Boomers, the number will now be part of their next 10 birthdays as they become Senior Sensations.