By Mary West

Baby Boomers, the people born between 1946 and 1964, have influenced society for 60 years, and they will continue to do so in their retirement. Their idea of the golden years bears little resemblance to that of previous generations because they are much more active in both work and play. In fact, you could say they have reinvented the concept. Instead of viewing retirement as retreating from life in its fullness, they are relishing the opportunities for new adventures.

Boomers are reluctant to stop working

Known for pushing themselves to meet high expectations, Boomers will draw upon this character trait to help them age gracefully. It is perhaps this motivation and drive that has made them reluctant to leave the workforce. Their desire to keep working takes a variety of forms, including part-time jobs, entrepreneurship and volunteering.

A study for Banker’s Life found many Boomers who reach the age of retirement want some type of special job arrangement like flexible hours or telecommuting. They are also open to being employed in a different position or even a different industry than before.  Many Boomers  like to work on some level which will enable them to stay active within the business world. Yet the apparent work ethic isn’t always rooted in financial fear. Of the retired  Boomers who have a job, six in ten cite nonfinancial reasons such as staying mentally sharp and physically active and maintaining a sense of purpose.

Entrepreneurship and encore careers offer new vistas

Since people are living longer and healthier lives, a person who retires at age 60 can expect to live quite a few more years.  Boomers want to spend these years in meaningful activity. Entrepreneurship and encore careers provide the perfect outlet for their industriousness.

These enterprises have become popular for an array of reasons. Since older workers can be victims of downsizing, it makes sense for them to start their own business. Moreover, aside from being a means of acquiring needed income, second careers provide a way to pursue a passion. Retirement is the ideal time to look into a particular interest that the busy schedule of employment always precluded.

USA Today reports on a menagerie of people who have reinvented themselves after retirement and are enjoying success. They give an account of a former lawyer who founded a nonprofit agency and a former conductor who followed his dream to start a cookie business based on his grandmother’s recipe. This source also tells of two women, one, a marketing executive, and the other, a cultural anthropologist, who banded together after retirement to write mystery books. These stories illustrate how America is still the land of opportunity for people in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Franchising is an attractive business option

Among those interested in entrepreneurship, franchising is attractive because the business doesn’t have to be built from scratch. Guidance and support is available in the system for locating, marketing and supplying the enterprise, which is a big benefit for those who want to enter an industry in which they have no experience. Other advantages of franchising include name recognition and the security involved in a proven business model.

Rather than being a one-size-fits-all endeavor, franchising involves financial options. They require an initial investment, but not all necessitate a large upfront outlay. Low-cost choices include printing, tax preparation and cleaning services along with services for children or seniors. In addition, a franchise can be bought from an existing owner, a route that has less financial risk than launching a new business.

Volunteering presents an outlet for skills

Millions of Boomers are volunteering, and their education makes them an especially valuable resource. A big trend in this age group is pro-bono work, which involves using their skills to make a difference and help people. For example, a retired CPA might work with the AARP’s tax aid program, or a retired teacher might tutor students in a school.

Boomers who want to volunteer but don’t know how to start can get direction from several organizations. Senior Corps is a group that connects volunteers to community service. Another option is, a website that permits Boomers to look for ways to volunteer in their locale by putting in their zip code. Those willing and able to travel a little or a lot can work in the Red Cross or Peace Corps.

Traveling is the favorite leisure activity

 According to Forbes, Boomers spend $157 billion on traveling every year, and most of them rank it as their favorite leisure activity. Many of them are in good physical condition, so they  seek adventure trips, where they can ski, mountain climb, kayak, hike or scuba dive. Medical tourism is another hot trend in this age group because the high cost of health care has spurred them to go to other countries for interventions such as Lasix surgery or hip replacements. Ecotourism is a common trip choice since Boomers appreciate the beauty and value of nature. Warm climate destinations will always be popular with older adults, but Boomers are also interested in exotic locations around the world.

Boomers have embraced RV living

 Droves of Boomers have embraced the RV lifestyle wholeheartedly. As RV aficionados put it, they are “living the dream,” which involves ditching their brick-and-mortar homes in favor of motor homes. Since they are no longer tethered to a job, they are free to respond to the lure of the open road. They visit all the places they have always wanted to see, staying as little or as long as they like. Along the way, they befriend other like-minded individuals, so they are often not lacking for companionship. A sense of community is characteristic of many RV parks because residents can visit each other and enjoy the entertainment, fitness activities and educational endeavors together.

Fitness Remains a Priority

The Boomer generation led the fitness revolution, and many of them are still actively pursuing better health. Their wish to continue to exercise has led to a surge in fitness programs geared to the elderly across the nation. Aside from aerobic exercise, Boomers are avid sports participants, engaging in tennis, aquatic activities, jogging and walking. They don’t let their age prevent them from engaging in extreme sports like skydiving and rafting, nor are they averse to combining exercise with socialization through ballroom dancing or Zumba.

Interests are multifaceted

Growing older needn’t involve losing interest in activities. Since Boomers want to stay in their homes as long as possible, they are involved in gardening and do-it-yourself home projects. They also take pleasure in learning new things. Many enroll in classes to expand their horizons. Entertainment remains a part of their routine, and they continue to shop, attend concerts, and dine out with friends. Approximately half of them are comfortable with the Internet, and they use social media sites like Facebook to connect with others.

As you can see, Baby Boomers have a zest for life that remains unchanged. Their undimmed enthusiasm encompasses every area, and they are seeking to make the most of their golden years in employment, leisure activities and fitness. The generation that “did their own thing” in their youth is implementing this philosophy in their retirement. They are indeed blazing a trail for future generations to follow.