Throughout our lifetime, we experience dramatic events that directly impact the way we live. Tragic or celebratory, we often recognize the short-term ramifications, without realizing the long-term psychological impact that follows us throughout life. For many of today’s retirees, the Viet Nam War was a key milestone that impacted every aspect of life in the 1960s. While lessons were learned from past history, few of us realize the continued significance of this traumatic event on today’s retiree.
For the past three decades retirement communities have been designed for the “Silent Generation.” These sun-seeking retirees’ formulative years were experienced in 50s and early 60s, prior to the war. Their retirement years were seen as validation of a life well lived, and the formality of a country club lifestyle indicated a respect for their accomplishments in business and life. They enjoyed the prestige and exclusivity that was hard earned over time. And they cherished a lifestyle that included several rounds of golf a week, fine dining with like-minded friends, and perhaps a game of cards or a little tennis along the way.
Today, the post Viet Nam Baby Boomers have entered their retirement years–so what makes their life so much different than previous generations? Their unique life experiences were instrumental in creating a psychographic profile unlike any other. They are the generation that changed the world. They value natural surroundings, diversity and inclusiveness. They embraced individuality, challenge the establishment, and cherish their music, friends and a free-spirited way of life. This dramatic shift in priorities is evident in their purchasing decisions, and is now guiding the design and development of today’s retirement communities.
Personal health and wellness are now the top priority, but not in terms of fancy facilities. Outdoor sporting activities in a group setting are trending – nature trails, cycling, kayaking, running clubs, stand up paddle board and cross country skiing continue to grow in popularity. The spirit must be nurtured along with the body through yoga, meditation, life-long learning and other holistic activities.
Country Club managers and developers are recognizing the trends. The demand for golf has been greatly reduced with Boomers seeking more diverse experiences. Even the most stringent Clubs are now making provisions for jeans to be worn in the dining room, and farm-to-table dining with organic, heart-healthy menus and family style service are in high demand.
The “active adult” label has become a dirty word, but don’t be fooled — they are more active than ever. Actively participating in giving back to the world around them through volunteer services, charitable foundations or community projects. Developers are allocating space for dog parks, community gardens and extensive trail systems. A walk able lifestyle that allows for fun-filled evenings without worrying about designated drivers is also a popular choice.
Living younger, living longer, living better – personal choices and new priorities of a generation focused on individuality. A confidence and strength that form the silver lining of the cloud of War experienced during one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.