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50+: Live Better, Longer

Baby Boomers: A New Way to Grow Old

Experts explain why baby boomers aren't likely to rest on their laurels when they retire.
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Boomer Idealism

By 2030, when the last of the boomers reach 65, the number of people in this country over 65 will be about 70 million -- double what it is today. More than 30% of the population will be over 50.

Never before in human history have so many healthy people reached such a late stage of life, and some worry that the costs of Medicare and Social Security will become an economic burden.

In contrast, David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, believes a significant portion of those costs will be offset by the contributions the older generation will make.

"Boomers came of age when Kennedy famously asked what they could do for their country, and that sense of idealism remains in place today," says Eisner, who promotes and develops volunteer opportunities for older Americans. "Our research shows many boomers are motivated to make a meaningful difference. We can't afford to lose the ingenuity and the creativity and the skills of this generation."

Volunteer Opportunities

Eisner says people can find volunteer opportunities in their area by going to www.getinvolved.gov.

"It lists thousands of organizations with hundreds of thousands of opportunities," Eisner says. "It's a clearinghouse of clearinghouses for volunteering."

Also, the Harvard Mentoring Project, sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health, recently launched an ad campaign that directs people to www.mentoring.org, which features mentoring opportunities.

The changes in personality that take place as a person matures may actually promote the impulse to volunteer.

The psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who divided life into various developmental stages, said later middle age brings an increase in "generativity" - the desire to pass on knowledge and experience to the younger generation.

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