Boomers have good reasons to stay put, stay active

Our View

August 18, 2011

The people who run senior centers are finding that the baby boomers who are beginning to populate them don't want bingo, they want belly dancing (see our Page 1 story).

These aging boomers are less inclined than their parents were to pull up stakes and move to Florida, or even into nearby retirement housing. They want to stay right where they are, in the homes they know, and local officials have sharpened their focus on ways to help them achieve that goal.

Observing the determination of this new segment of the senior population to stay put and to keep doing physical things instead of shuffling off to some warm corner to await the inevitable quietly, the cynic might say it's a result of denial: The people who came of age in the don't-trust-anyone-over-30 culture of the 1960s are vainly clinging to their youth.

There might be a grain of truth to that assessment, but there's a bigger picture.

Not so very long ago, retirement age came at the twilight of life. If you were lucky and actually made it to the end of your working life, you could enjoy the grandkids, maybe some pinochle, for a few short years before death came calling. Now, retirement can comprise even a third of a lifetime for some.

Even as medical advances continue to lengthen the average life span, a mountain of evidence tells us that remaining active, both mentally and physically, dramatically improves the chances that those extra years will be happy and healthy ones.

Meanwhile, staying at home can also mean staying plugged in to networks of family and friends who can offer both physical support and, more importantly, social and emotional support.

Maybe it's less about vanity than it is about practicality.

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