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As First Baby Boomers Turn 65, They’re Feeling Good and Not Ready to Quit

December 22, 2010

AARP Media Relations,, 202-434-2560

As First Baby Boomers Turn 65, They’re Feeling Good and Not Ready to Quit
7,000 Boomers will turn 65 each day in 2011.

WASHINGTON, DC – Despite weathering a brutal economic recession and on the eve of their 65th birthday, leading-edge Baby Boomers remain characteristically optimistic about their future and pleased with their life choices, according to a new AARP survey on the attitudes, feelings and outlooks of Americans born in 1946 at the beginning of the Baby Boom Generation. Starting January 1st, approximately 7,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 each day, and they intend to stay active into traditional retirement years in the workplace and beyond, according to “Approaching 65: A Survey of Baby Boomers Turning 65,” which updates a similar AARP survey done as these Boomers started to turn 60.

Redefining Retirement
As they approach a birthday that was synonymous with retirement for their parents’ generation, many Boomers are still working – and plan to keep at it for the foreseeable future.

While just more than half (54%) of leading-edge Boomers are retired, more than one-in-three (34%) are still in the workforce. Of these Boomers who are currently employed or looking for work, 35% returned to the workforce after having retired from a previous career. Almost three-in-ten (29%) of these working Boomers expect to retire at age 70 or later, and only 55% plan to cut back on their work hours in the next few years. Four-in-ten (40%) say they “plan to work until [they] drop.”

“Baby Boomers will be a fixture in the workplace for years to come,” said AARP executive vice president Steve Cone. “Some are staying on the job to shore up their nest eggs; others just can’t imagine life without work. Either way, Boomers are changing the math on what ‘retirement age’ is.”

‘What’s Next?’
While some of these Boomers feel uncertain (51%) and anxious (43%) about the next five years, the overwhelming majority feel hopeful (87%) and confident (84%). Boomers feel that the next five years will be fulfilling (84%) and exciting (70%). Only 25% think the coming years will be boring.

When asked what changes they expect to make over the next few years, the overwhelming majority of Boomers said they plan to take better care of their health (84%), spend more time with loved ones (81%) and make more time for doing the things they always wanted to do (74%). Most leading-edge Boomers said they plan to increase their travel (61%) and volunteerism (54%), and more than four-in-ten (44%) plan to take classes or learn something new.

This early cohort of the Boomer generation likely will also dispel the myth that most retirees want to move to retirement havens in warmer climates. Few leading edge Boomers have plans to relocate (2%), or to buy larger (3%) or second homes (4%).

“This is a generation that started identifying who they are with what they do, so it’s no surprise that they plan on staying active for as long as they can,” added Cone. “The ‘tune in, turn on, drop out’ crowd never got around to that last part.”

Feeling Good Looking Back
Boomers say that key aspects of their life are generally in line with their expectations. At least half of these Boomers say their careers (50%), relationships with family and friends (51%) and spiritual lives (54%) are about what they’d expect to be at this point in their lives.

Overall, the leading-edge Boomers are comfortable and satisfied with what they have achieved. Seven in 10 (71%) say they have achieved all or most of what they want and another 26% have achieved at least some of it. They are comfortable with expectations for their longevity, too. Most expect to live about the same number of years (mean age 85.2 years) that they want to live (mean age 88.7 years).

Of course, the Boomers still have some concerns about their lives, most notably their health and personal finances. More than three-in-ten Boomers say their health (31%) and personal finances (32%) are in worse condition than they previously expected. And more than a quarter cite money (26%) and health (28%) as the biggest obstacles to achieving their dreams over the next five years. Surprisingly, in light of the recent recession and the chronological end to their middle age, they worry no more about money and health today than they did at age 60.

“The first Boomers helped define the most influential generation in our country’s history,” said Cone. “They’re on a pretty good run, and they’re not close to being done.”

The full report can be accessed here:

The survey of 801 people turning 65 in 2011 and drawn at random from the United States was conducted by Woelfel Research, Inc. for AARP. It was conducted by telephone in English from November 11 to November 15, 2010. It has a margin of error of ±3.5%.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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