What kinds of symbols say "Boomer" to you? Springsteen? Dylan? Beatles? Barak or either one of the Clintons? A flower pointed at a gun? A burning bra or an angry student or Dennis Hopper on his cycle? (The pic at left is adapted from a wikimedia clip of Janis Joplin's Porsche.) When it comes to icons and emblems, we cover a lot of turf and it's really hard to peg one, isn't it?
pal of mine on staff at UC Berkeley has been watching heads hit the
ground around her for months. My friends who are teachers are fretting
about cutbacks in budgets that had already been slashed to the bone.
From other educators, I know that from pre-K to post-docs, school
funding has slowed to a drip of a trickle. In a thought-provoking
recent NYT piece, "The Uneducated American," Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wonders why we permit starving our seed corn like this.
your friends grow fat and happy (or not), so do your own odds of each
increase, says a fascinating new study. This might seem to be
restating the obvious, but we rarely see it quantified or illustrated
the study evolved is also a fascinating story involving two
enterprising researchers who produced new renditions of unused data
found in dusty old records
from the Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest long-term efforts
track thousands of participants for cardiac risk starting in 1948.
All of it is highly relevant to we of the almost-aging. Today we get, as they didn't back then, that these
very same cardiac risks factor out far beyond the heart to sustaining healthy bodies and
brains as we age. Today we know (or some of us do) that lifestyle
change can hugely reduce our risk for other unhappy endings such as
Alzheimer's too. And today we are really beginning to see how often
healthy habits can even trump our genes. If you had any doubt about any
of that, data like this will help you believe it.
But in particular, this latest finding from Framingham adds a vivid picture of how fast
and how pervasively health habits propagate between people.
It's almost as if Mother Nature was using Twitter and Facebook unseen.
Read the whole story and see its great graphics (from Wired magazine) here.
journalist and a marketing vet, I spend some time watching sales
pitches lobbed at people my age. At the same time, I am watching our
evolving sense of identity as the gray on our heads grows more dense.
A recent piece aimed at ad pros by Robin Raff at
MediaPost explores selling health care to
Boomers. I found this angle a bit ironic since the larger question in Boomer
health today is how the almost-aging can access decent service at decent rates,
not what it takes to make us want it. But it was interesting to see what she thinks will be motivational, since ad types still seem conflicted about how to sell into the Boomer niche.
Below is my own rendition of some of the"pitch points" on which she and I agree along with some added thoughts from me:
Self-Reliance Boomers may like hearing advice,
but they don't want to be told what to do, Robin and her sources
This gets a "bingo" from me. Boomers don't like to feel like sheep, even when they appear to be moving in herds.
Cost and Convenience Show Boomers how you will save them time and/or money, the author offers next.
That also gets a big "aye" from me. Most Boomers love a good bargain, especially today.
But note to any merchant tempted to bait and switch: Wewill take the time to verify the bargain is real. (See also next item.)
My hub and I have just become
"micro" workers at a large university. I say "micro" since we are
each committing small amounts of time for what amounts to micro pay. In his case, it is a 1/4 time position at a pay grade miles below his last full-time salary. In brief, he will be netting less than
1/10th of his former pay to give them 1/4 of his time during the
coming year -- all of course with no benefits.
But hey, it's a job. A
nice job, in fact, doing something he finds truly neat, bringing business world methods to academic R&D. So it will
keep his resume current while doing some good on both sides.
In my case, the pay is more psychic. I have a nice title, a tiny
stipend, and a lot of leeway to shape my flex-time role in a campus lab
doing brain science. Technically, I am not a real employee; I have a
time-limited fellowship sponsored by an outside entity. In business, we would call me a consultant.
But "senior fellow" will sound nice on my resume too; and like the hub,
I have a smalll quixotic hope it might aid in some way with some real pay some
day. If not, at least I will learn some interesting things about
current-day research while helping them to communicate.
That may be as win-win as it gets in this frozen economy.
We each got our gigs on the same campus at the same time via different routes.
He was recruited after his second year judging in a national science fair
that put him on the radar at the School of Engineering. I applied for
my mine in response to a flyer found on a table after a lecture,
and wound up being one of four people picked for a cross-disciplinary program in Psych.
That our offers came
around the same time seemed completely coincidental. We did not know when we accepted these posts that we were joining a movement with a name. But, in fact, we are part of a new wave of "Encore" workers filled with Boomers extending careers with new kinds of employment.
Have you been curious about the impact that retiring Boomers are
likely to have on the market for real estate? Dowell Myers, a professor
of urban planning at USC, was curious too. With funding from the Fannie
Mae Foundation, he recently completed a meaty study -- Aging Boomers and The Generational Housing Bubble -- that
can be downloaded from a link at his web site. His"takeaway"
message is that Boomer retirement "could signal the end of the postwar
era" for land use planning and "reverse several longstanding trends."
(Warning: Depressing news to follow.)
Myers opens by noting the
ratio of seniors to working-age homeowners is expected to grow quite
abruptly, rising by more than 30% in each of the next two decades. As a
result, the study predicts, there will be a glut of resales in existing
neighborhoods with more sellers than buyers for quite awhile, forcing a major shift in real estate trends.
the trends he and his colleagues foresee: an increasing decline in
impacted neighborhoods, decreasing gentrification in older areas, less demand for low
density housing, and an increasing emphasis on compact development.
agree with the professor's take on higher density in new construction if only to
make it more affordable for our offspring who may be less affluent due to the shifting economy. But since we
will also have a huge existing inventory of bigger homes on larger lots, I
suspect there might be increasing interest in older neighborhoods
once nostalgia kicks in and real yards with trees start to seem rare.
course, my take begs the question of how many in the Next Gen will be
able to afford to buy Daddy's house, or whether Daddy can cut his
asking price below his mortgage balance. So Meyers may be correct to
suggest that a long-term glut of unsold homes lies ahead, no matter how
much the buyers and sellers might wish to seal a deal.
Click here to read more about it. (And thanks to Mike Miller and his "Retirement Revised" blog for leading me to it.)
One of my favorite eat-healthy gurus is David Zinczenko, author of "Eat
This and Not That" and a regular Today Show contributor. In his column
over at Yahoo, Dave recently published a"bad restaurant" list for those
who are watching the trend lines on their waistlines and their
Dave's whole schtick is showing how to eat healthy
even in places where health is not at the top of the menu. He often
makes his points quite graphically by showing functional equivalents,
such as one serving of the such-and-such salad has as much fat as a
whole plate of fries. Click here to see the best and worst things to eat at popular places like Mikey D. and Chili's, along with some less sinful alternatives. And while you are there, look at Dave's list of the Best and Worst Brain Foods, some of which may surprise you. And last but not least, here is the link to Dave's new web site. Bon Appetit!
The thumbnail image above previews the bottom line while the article
gives several specifics (such as how much of what may be too much). If you'd also
like the link to the original study, keep reading.
Have you noticed how often health experts are speaking to us today as
if our entire Gen will be full of centenarians? First I heard Mike
(RealAge) Roizen on a PBS pledge special last week (links below). Then
today, on Today, Terri Trespico from the magazine Body+Soul did
a meaty, yet concise, segment with her Top 10 tips for healthy aging.
None of it depends on radical regimens, either; all are saying that a
few simple lifestyle shifts can radically improve the odds of our own
Spoiler alert: I am going to summarize Terri's
top ten tips below, but it's still worth clicking through on the links
at the end to watch or read the whole segment from the show.
1. Punch up the potassium The
first suggestion was for bananas, papayas, potatoes, and all those
great leafy greens like kale. Potassium eaters over 65 kept 3.6% more
lean muscle mass in old age.
2. Keep smiling An
upbeat attitude not only makes daily life more pleasant, statistics
show it also adds years to the lifespan due to less damage from stress
hormones such as cortisol.
3. Breathe deeply and often Exercise
is inversely related to age at death. Aim for 20-30 minutes of brisk
activity 5 days per week. Meanwhile learn to breathe deeply several
times a day (make your navel rise while inhaling, says Roizen). It
oxygenates deep organs and tissues.
4. Swallow a few good bugs Probiotics,
such as found in yogurt or capsules, improve immunity and decrease risk
of colon cancer. Other fermented foods such as tempeh are excellent
too. (See article link below for more detailed suggestions).
It's fascinating to watch a whole culture re-compile on the fly, and if I want some encouragement during these downer times, it helps me to look at how good we Americans are at re-inventing ourselves while re-shaping our environments. For that kind of encouragement, I can already find many points of light in the blogosphere where new forms of creativity are blooming left and right. Below some recent examples:
1. Creative Perspective This week I stumbled on a wonderful visualization site, WallStats.com,
the creative overflow stack of graphic artist, Jess Bachman. At left is
a thumbnail corner of the vivid graphic that first put him on my own
radar -- a diagram of what the bailout
might mean to you and me, Jane and Joe Taxpayer. If you go there, click
around. He has a number of interesting messages and data sets that show
his point as much as tell it. If we can't fix this mess anytime soon,
perhaps it's a bit of comfort to gain more perspective.
2. Creative Frugality Have you begun to
wonder yet how extended hard times might effect younger Boomers and their sibs who grew up accustomed to "living large" in better times? A number of younger bloggers are thinking about that too,
and what you might call "creative frugality" is already gaining buzz among the Twittering and Thumb-texting set who are joining the
ranks of the
newly unemployed (see also item 3 below). One example is the "Nate's Cents"
blog on making the switch to living lean without giving up all
pleasure. We oldsters may smile to see so many of our own former life
themes re-framed, but hey, at least the kids were listening. Perhaps we
can tune into them ourselves and learn a few new things. Meanwhile,
since I am not so far past parenting teens, I got a good grin from this
post which gives a sense of how some 20-somethings might coach each other when they think the 'rents aren't listening.