Boomers is all about helping people prepare for a later life that has meaning, purpose and joy.
We’re ageing faster and living longer than ever before. The baby boomers (those born 1946-1964) have the potential to re-define what it means to grow old. It’s predicted that by 2020, the over-65s will outnumber children. And by 2036 almost a quarter of our population (23%), will be aged 65 and over.
Ageing isn’t something we can dodge. What’s really important is how we age.
Like financial planning for retirement, wellbeing planning works better the sooner it starts. It is aligned with the Mental Health Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing and also with the government’s Positive Ageing Strategy, which aims for older New Zealanders to be healthy, independent, connected and respected.
The people who have shared their stories on Boomers come from a variety of backgrounds but they all incorporate some of the Five Ways to Wellbeing in their daily lives. All are connected to others, giving to their various communities, not afraid of learning new things, have a sense of humour, and find meaning in their daily lives. By sharing their stories with you we hope to highlight some of the key factors that lead to a long, rewarding life, as well as to challenge ageist stereotypes.
Through necessity or choice, a growing number of baby boomers are beginning to think outside the quarter-acre paradise square when it comes to where they will live in their later years.
As home ownership rates continue to drop, the need for creative housing options that provide for security and wellbeing in older age for our citizens will become increasingly important. And while it is a comparatively new field of research, experts tell us that security of tenure is a crucial factor in wellbeing and comfort as we age.
In fact, the Ottawa Charter which is the founding health promotion framework used in New Zealand and internationally, identifies secure housing as one of the fundamental prerequisites for good health and that includes mental health.
Our ‘GITs’, an acronym they’ve embraced, are people from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds who through choice or circumstance are spending their later years with others – family, friends or even strangers as an alternative to living alone or as an isolated couple. And they’re making the most of it:
People who grow up in different time periods can have widely differing worldviews and values.
Healthy relationships between generations benefit everyone involved. For the older person there is an opportunity to pass on skills, experiences, cultural heritage and family stories to a younger generation. Being valued and having a sense of purpose increases wellbeing and can reduce social isolation and depression.
Many young people grow up separated from grandparents and don’t know many older people in their communities. They may even fear them. Intergenerational relationships can help them to understand and appreciate older adults and reduce any negative stereotyping of older people. Both sides can learn new skills from each other.
Our series of intergenerational stories highlight positive relationships between the generations – within families and whanau and in the wider community:
Bryan Moore, Rob Calder, Areta Koopu, Tufuga Holatu Lagatule (pictured above) and Ruth Brown were all born before World War II. We felt it was important to include people who are enjoying mentally healthy lifestyles into their 70s and beyond, despite some of them having experienced major health setbacks such as a stroke, heart disease or chronic mental illness.
Baby boomers Wayne Leong and Malcolm Dixon have struggled against the odds – Wayne as a Chinese immigrant who faced the challenge of finding his place in a foreign country, and Malcolm who was forced to retire early because of mental illness. Rural dweller Margaretanne Roger has hopes of living to 100 and beyond.
The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service also has a collection of books and articles on ageing which New Zealand borrowers can access.
It’s never too late, so start your retirement wellbeing plan today no matter how old you are!