Happy 65th Birthday, Baby Boomers!

The generation's first members hit retirement age, with no plans to slow down.

By Sherri Lerner

The year ahead is a big one for the Baby Boomer generation. As hard as it may be to believe, the first wave of Boomers, those born in 1946, will turn 65 in 2011, in effect becoming Senior Boomers. The generation is 78 million strong, making up more than 26 percent of the United States population. To put it in perspective, starting in January 2011, about 10,000 Boomers a day will turn 65, according to Pew Research Center projections, and that will continue, daily, for 19 years.

Still on the Job

What does it all mean? For one thing, our society's definition of "retirement" is set to change in a big way in the years ahead. More than a third of Boomers are still in the workforce, and 35 percent of them returned to the workforce after having previously retired from another job. These workers instead to stay on the job well past retirement, some out of necessity, some to reach other goals. Nearly 30 percent of working boomers don’t expect to retire before age 70 — 40 percent say they'll work until they no longer can.

What are they working for? A recent survey conducted for New York Life found that many Boomers now consider expenses that were once luxuries to be basic needs. Providing for their families, in part by helping to fund their grandchildren’s education — 51 percent of Boomers are grandparents — is a key goal. But enjoying leisure travel and being able to live "the good life" in retirement are also top priorities for Boomers, according to the survey.

No Regrets

Boomers certainly face challenges as they enter a new stage of life, including maintaining their health and financial security, but most say they are happy both with what they’ve achieved so far and what lies ahead; more than 70 percent say they’ve achieved all or most of what they’d hoped.

That positive attitude may be the generation's most valuable resource. For example, the typical Boomer doesn't even consider 65 to be "old age” — according to a Pew Research study, the average Boomer believes that starts at 72. In fact, while only about half of all Americans say they feel younger than their years, 61 percent of Boomers feel that way; the typical Boomer feels nine years younger than his or her chronological age. Or, as a recent Stanford University report on longevity concluded, "75 is the new 68."

Yo, Adrian! Look Who's Turning 65

If you're among the first wave of Baby Boomers turning 65 this year, you're in distinguished company. These 25 newsmakers and celebrities were all born in 1946 as well, including both Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his beloved Adrian (Talia Shire):

  • Diane Keaton, actress (January 5)
  • Naomi Judd, singer (January 11)
  • Dolly Parton, singer (January 19)
  • Liza Minnelli, singer/actress (March 12)
  • John Waters, director (April 22)
  • Talia Shire, actress (April 26)
  • Candice Bergen, actress (May 9)
  • Reggie Jackson, athlete (May 18)
  • Cher, singer/actress(May 20)
  • George W. Bush, politician, and Sylvester Stallone, actor (July 6)
  • Cheech Marin, actor/comedian (July 13)
  • Danny Glover, actor (July 22)
  • Bill Clinton, politician (August 19)
  • Peggy Lipton, actress (August 30)
  • Oliver Stone, director, and Tommy Lee Jones, actor (September 15)
  • Susan Sarandon, actress (October 4)
  • Pat Sajak, game-show host (October 26)
  • Sally Field, actress (November 6)
  • Patty Duke, actress (December 14)
  • Steven Spielberg, director (December 18)
  • Susan Lucci, actress (December 23)
  • Jimmy Buffett, singer (December 25)
  • Patti Smith, singer (December 30)

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