The Lost Boomers

I am a baby boomer born in 1955, at the front end of the most successful generation in time, and yet half of the boomers have less than $100,000 in savings. Few have pensions, their social security is at risk, and they never learned about the power of compounding money.  The result is higher divorce rates than ever before in the over-60 demographics, soaring alcohol and substance use, levels of loneliness never experienced before and ultimately suicide.

This strange phenomenon with the boomers is changing the very fabric of our nation. Boomers are more depressed than any other generation, and in fact, 1 in 7 are currently being treated every day. According to Gallup, boomers are more likely than any other generation in the past to have experienced depression at some point in their lives.

Some of the factors that contribute to this problem are that boomers were more in control of their careers than past generations, leaving behind the traditional jobs their parents had, along with their pensions and company-sponsored retirement plans. When the boomer’s job start winding down, they are lost and not sure what to replace their work schedule with. Friends are moving away to cheaper and warmer locations. The kids are raised and out of the house and there is a dark looming fear over whether they will outlive their money. They did not have a company looking out for their later years nor did they did have the foresight or training to manage their money and now they are facing the real possibility of working as a Walmart greeter into their golden years.

At this same time, divorces are skyrocketing in this demographic. The over-sixty crowd is experiencing record levels of divorce, leaving many unsure about how to handle things from changing that high lightbulb to managing their retirement funds. Men struggle with isolation and are often not as social as their female counterparts. Whereas women were always juggling jobs while raising 2.2 kids, cooking dinner and socializing with the neighbors, men were searching for their purpose in life through their jobs, often focused primarily on just that one thing, unable to multi-task like their wives. Once athletic and strong, men now face health issues such as back problems, damaged rotator cuffs, lower libidos and torn this and that.

This shift in the way the world revolves around retirees often leads to alcoholism and substance abuse as a way to self-medicate. Once married with kids, a great job and active in sports, a guy sits at home watching the golf network, wondering how to fill his day with things to do. I have met several of these guys through dating websites and most have reverted back to how they acted when they were in high school.  I have asked several guys “is this working for you?” And the response is always sadly “no.” I suggest they try a new and creative approach. However, most have not learned the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  If help is not found, this depression can lead to suicide, destroying their close-knit community of family and friends along with the boomer who was searching for meaning in his life. My ex-husband finally reached this point only 6 weeks ago. It is a heartbreaking tragedy that I never want anyone to experience, facing a young grandchild who asks ” Nana, why did Paw Paw kill himself?”

We all need a purpose, something to focus on and give us a reason to get out of bed, off the sofa and back into the circle of life. We are all born selfish, just watch how pre-schoolers are, never wanting to share with one another. Selfish people are never generous with their time, emotions or skills, always wanting to save everything up in case it might be needed in the future. They would rather be alone and miserable than being a part of a productive community that desperately needs their unique skills and talent.

Conversely, generous people want to reach out and share their gifts of God, teaching or coaching or helping raise up someone in need; a young child in school who is struggling with math.  Perhaps it is a divorcee or widow who needs help managing their money or investing in their future or simply shoveling a neighbor’s driveway. A generous person wants to share their joy and passion along with their resources to those less fortunate than they are. These are not the folks on anti-depression medications… they have found joy in “the helping process”. They are much too busy to act like a spoiled toddler once again.

Learn to share with others, a lesson long forgotten that we learned in pre-school…. or did some of us ever really learn that one? Based on my own limited database of statistics, most of ” my guys” never learned the meaning of altruism, community and social outreach. Most would rather stay home, watch the golf channel or crime documentaries, never wanting to share with others, or venture out into a world that desperately needs their help.

Find your unique purpose. Grow up and start acting like an adult. Give back to the world that has been giving to you since your first breath. Help a friend, neighbor and especially a stranger, one person at a time.

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