CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Baby boomers are retiring, but not fading away
Article Type: News and events From: Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Volume 14, Issue 3.
"Getting on [...] with life" is a report reviewing how baby boomers' experiences have affected their views and expectations of growing old, and explores how they are likely to weather the transition into later life, particularly with regard to their mental health and wellbeing. The report highlights how the radical social and cultural change driven by this generation might also be the source of equally radical and inventive solutions to the problems their ageing will present. Key findings include:
People are living much longer but they are not necessarily living more healthily, meaning a greater number of older people are living with chronic health conditions and disabilities.
More than half (52.7 per cent) were worried about loss of their mental abilities in later life.
They are likely to experience greater isolation and loneliness due to increased social and family fragmentation and loss of community cohesion.
Significant inequalities continue to persist within this generation which impact upon mental health and wellbeing - though much less is known about particular groups in this generation such as people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Baby boomers are redefining this life stage as they make the transition into retirement and later life, with one in five likely to continue working after state pension age.
They are also a "transitional" generation and have similar levels of concern about their mental health as they grow older in comparison to younger generations. Adjusting policies to meet this generation's needs would therefore also benefit subsequent generations.
They are less concerned than younger generations about being depressed when they get older (29 per cent compared to 42 per cent of 18-44 year olds) which suggests a positive attitude towards growing old.
Many are worried about whether they will get the health and social care support they need as they grow old but are also keen to be active participants in finding solutions to these problems using their lifetime skills, knowledge and experience.
They are not a homogeneous group. Theirs is a generation of huge diversity in income and wealth, ethnicity, education, family relationships, health and life expectancy and attitudes and beliefs.
The report highlights ten key findings for UK governments and other agencies to promote the mental health of this and future generations, including:
Baby boomers should be mobilised in helping shape and deliver forward-looking health and social care policies and services.
Tackling social isolation and loneliness in old age should be a priority for national and local government action.
Adult health and mental health services should be integrated across age groups and delivered according to need not age.
Ageism harms people's mental health. We need a change of attitude towards age and older people across all policy areas.
The importance of employment and workplace practices in protecting mental health in an ageing workforce to be recognised.
Mental health in later life needs to be supported and protected as a valuable social asset. Public policy needs to recognise the enormous "care capital" within the baby boomer population.
Age Well was a two-year project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation investigating how baby boomers, men and women born between 1946 and 1955 and currently living in the UK can be supported to protect their mental health and improve their wellbeing as they grow older. The report includes data collected from a YouGov poll of over 5,000 people, an online survey, face to face interviews and a longer Summary of Evidence report which is available to download from the Mental Health Foundation a UK-wide charity that carries out research, campaigns for better mental health services and works to raise awareness of all mental health issues to help us all lead mentally healthier lives (http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk).