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Baby Boomers’ Acceptance of Retirement is Different Between Genders


Many factors are involved when making the decision to retire. Financial readiness, health, emotional readiness, and age are but a few of the considerations that enter into the assessment. Once the decision is made, the readiness of one to accept retired life is highly correlated to one’s social system. There is a pronounced difference by gender on how baby boomers react to being retired and it is influenced by whether the retiree is single or married.

Retirement for Baby Boomers is not the same as their parents

Retirement has long been understood to represent the end of a person’s working career. Common definitions of retirement are as follows:

  1. Leaving of job or career – the act of leaving a job or career at or near the usual age for doing so, or the state of having left a job or career
  2.  Time after having stopped working – the time that follows the end of somebody’s working life
  3. Being away from busy life – a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life

These are generally accepted definitions used to distinguish when the retirement period begins. Many baby boomers target retirement to coincide with their age, generally around 62 to 66 years of age, which is also the age when they are eligible for Medicare and Social Security payments. Since the time that Social Security established the “normal” retirement age at 65, life expectancy for a 65-year-old has increased by over seven years and continues to lengthen.

As a result of living longer, baby boomers plan to be “younger” longer and to work longer, not necessarily in their career, but at a job or activity that they love.

Most baby boomers will stop working for pay and retire in the traditional sense at some point. Often, they start out with the intention of an early retirement only to find they have time on their hands and their interest is not shared by many of their friends. Additionally, they discover that retirement can mean isolation without a core group of acquaintances to share their interests. Baby boomers reject a life of either full-time leisure or full-time work and are looking to keep active in both body and mind.

Social behavior with the onset of retirement

To keep active in body and mind often requires a social network of friends at the time of retirement. I recently published an article titled, Baby Boomers Socialize with Online Social Groups along Gender Roles (Part 1 and 2), which explained some of the differences between how men and women socialize in online social networks. The correlation between acceptance of retirement and one’s ability to socialize is very high and also revolves similarly along gender lines.

As with online social group participants, socially adept retirees are much happier than their less social counterpart. Women, in particular, are able to switch into a retirement lifestyle very quickly, while men may struggle to accept the change in lifestyle. Being social is not the only factor that leads to happiness in retirement, but it plays a significant role for baby boomers.

Modern day retirement is built around being social with others, unlike retirement of the past. Regardless of one’s marital status, current day retirees enjoy dining out, outdoor activities, traveling, and remaining active. Baby boomers, in general, are in better physical health than their predecessors, and they have the desire to remain in an active lifestyle during retirement. However, isolation in retirement occurs when the retiree lacks a core group of friends to participate in group activities. Generally, men lack this core group of friends and they are likely to feel more anxious about retirement. Anxiety is somewhat mitigated with married men, but day to day anxiety persists without a social structure to pursue personal interests.

Anxiety and even depression is not uncommon as baby boomers age and move into retirement. Hormonal changes, side effects of medication, and relocating to a new city all play a role in mood and emotional decline. Being without friends intensifies the symptoms, especially if one is no longer working. My experience is that there are hundreds of baby boomers nearby who are in the same predicament and would appreciate the opportunity to share in a good time. Generational online social groups are a very effective method in meeting others with similar likes and dislikes. Men, in particular, would benefit from participating in online social groups due to their tendency to become socially isolated during retirement. Overall, generational social groups can help one discover the benefits of retirement whether male or female, single or married.

Baby Boomers Have Misguided Expectation on the Use of Online Social Groups


Baby boomers believe that joining an online social group will deliver immediate requests from new friends. These expectations exist even when the member does not initiate any inquiries to others or post any information or details in their account for others to find. When there is no daily contact from others, the online member thinks that the online social group is inactive. But, the truth is, being social requires a lot of work and is not for those who simply want to post a picture and expect immediate inquiries from others. Baby boomer online social groups are meant for expression and interaction, not as a dating site. Participation is necessary to build a community of friends.


 

Online Social Groups Share Information

I run and monitor the activity of a Baby Boomer online social group and I am surprised by how many people join the site and walk away.  There are those who take some effort and provide a fair amount of information regarding their goal for joining the site, but they do not change settings to broadcast this information to others.  When members finish providing their information, they do not return or reach out to others on the site. Some members put very limited information about themselves and never participate or comment on existing public blogs, forums, pictures, or videos.  Still others join groups, but do not contribute to the groups’ content. After a couple of weeks, some of these members comment how the site is less active than they would like.

Baby Boomer web site



 

Online social groups are as active as their members’ participation.  The most active online social group unquestionably is Facebook, where you can log in most any time and you will have thousands of people posting comments and blogging.  The demographics of Facebook’s membership is so varied that people are doing different things all the time.  But even on Facebook, unless you reach out by searching for people, locations, or hobbies, you won’t possibly find anyone you are looking to meet.  Unlike the younger generation, baby boomers are not motivated to use the social group search feature to find others with similar interests or to post what is on their mind.

 

Considered a platform not an application

Online social group members


Online social groups provide its members with a platform to be social, both locally and virtually. Options to post photos, descriptions, forums, blogs, and videos are some of the standard features. Advance features such as, the ability to establish groups, and the ability to organize events and activities are also important platform options. Activity is driven by the members, not by the developers of the web site. The developers only provide the features that its members request. Large portions of the baby boomer generation are not comfortable with internet technology and are hesitant to engage in the features that exist on websites. This is certainly not the case with the younger population that you find on Facebook. They seek out the new features that developers provide and find a way to exploit it with their friends. Baby boomers are generally reluctant to use anything new.

 

The biggest misgiving that baby boomers have is the fear of who will find them when they  post their picture or their name.  This is in part because most baby boomers believe that online social groups are similar to online dating sites.  However, privacy concerns prevent others from seeing any information a member has provided without first agreeing to share this information by “friending” the inquiring member.  Participation in online social groups is usually free to members, so the protection of one’s privacy is very important and handled on an individual basis.  If one does not care to share their information with others, why be on an online social group?  The answer is that we all need social stimulation, especially as we near retirement.  I believe baby boomers are a greater beneficiary of online social groups than their younger counterpart, but this older generation is much more timid on social networks.  This is unfortunate because building generational friendships as one ages can last a lifetime and provide the camaraderie needed to pursue interests that one enjoys.

 

Use it as a Generational Platform

Baby boomers should embrace the concept of an online social group as a platform for becoming acquainted with others with similar interests, and not just a posting site.  Generational online social groups are available to maintain some homogeneity with members. There are a number of ways to express your interests and goals through the features provided by the developers.  Writing a blog about your interests will broadcast your message to other members.  Organizing a group for local participation will build a social group of neighbors.   Don’t view the social group as a place to post and forget. It is a platform for communication with your friends and some newly acquired acquaintances.  Participation is needed to keep others interested in you and you in them.  This builds a community of friends both locally and virtually and it is the goal of an online social network.


Baby Boomers Socialize with Online Social Groups along Gender Roles (Part 2)

 


While there are many theories surrounding the development of gender roles, one fact is unquestionable: men and women are socialized differently. Men use socializing as a means to an end while women socialize because they are social at heart.  A contrast that is easily identified by the way online social groups are used by gender.

Baby Boomer Men Socialize Differently than their Female Counterpart

If you ask a male baby boomer how many “true” friends he has made over his lifetime, you’re likely to get a reply of fewer than five from many boomers.  There is no doubt that baby boomer men know many people especially related to work or church activities, but they do not count them as “friends” or do they socialize with many of those acquaintances.  Instead, they often prefer to do things alone or with their family.

For the most part, men lack the desire to be social, whether it is on an online social network or as part of a social group.  Older men use online social networks, in large part, for promoting business and establishing contacts that can help in generating new business.  The online social network “LinkedIn” has at its roots men to thank for its success.  Initially men used this site for the purpose of searching out colleagues and contacts in organizations that they otherwise would not have access to; purely intended to promote their career and business, not with the primary purpose of socializing.  Emergence of online social groups such as Facebook were used to stay connected with family, not friends or acquaintances.  Baby boomer men are slow to adapt online social networks for their communication tool and instead opt to other techniques such as mobile phones and emails.  It is no surprise, therefore, that most men of this generation have little interest in getting involved with any online social group, even generational groups to broaden their friendship base.  They are more interested in promoting their self interest instead of making new friends.

One explanation of  men’s seemingly anti-social behavior is that they are more comfortable when social efforts revolve around activities and interests.  When two men get into an initial discussion, they seek to find out if they have a common interest.  Unlike women who seek to learn everything about the individual, men seek to learn if there is a common activity enjoyed between them in order to further their discussion.  Men are beginning to warm up to online social groups that have organized group activities rather than online social networks where the purpose is to meet “virtual” people.  But, as baby boomers get older, and have free time, they are more interested in  their well being and activities that promote well being.  Social groups that promote activities such as, hiking, fishing, hunting, bowling, etc. are very specific and attract the male population.  More and more online social groups are being formed because of their interest to the aging population.

Aging increases the need to meet others

Regardless of past behavior, as baby boomers age and leave the work place for retirement and health reasons, the need for meeting others in the same age group increases.  Men, in particular, leave behind much of their social life as they leave their employment.  Without social contacts, men find the transition out of the workforce and into the retirement phase long and very difficult.  Many consider reentering the work place just for the social aspects of working.

Making friends after retirement can be a difficult process. However, online social tools such as social networks and online social groups makes meeting others with similar interests easier today than at any time in the past.  The one size fits all approach by Facebook and others leave many hesitant to participate, especially baby boomers. That is why there is an increasing effort to establish social tools that fit the needs of the baby boomer generation. Local, generational, and gender specific social tools are in demand and developers are responding by establishing internet web sites to meet this demand.


 

Baby Boomers Socialize with Online Social Groups along Gender Roles

While there are many theories surrounding the development of gender roles, one fact is unquestionable: men and women are socialized differently.  The allure of online social groups has grown and as we age, baby boomers are looking for more companionship and friendship.  Although men and women approach socializing in different ways, there is a demand for online groups that are targeted toward the baby boomer generation.

Distinction between Online Social Groups

Online social groups are places on the internet where people can find old friends; make new friends, share thoughts, and post photographs and videos.  Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Myspace are some of the first networks to be implemented online. In terms of activity groups, Meetup.com is a leader in this segment.  Meetup.com is where members can find and join local members unified by common interests, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers, or hobbies. Activity groups can also be found within social network sites mentioned above and they draw in members from around the globe for discussions rather than local meetings.

The Baby Boomer and Online Social Groups

Baby boomers are interested in finding their own online group, particularly in terms of interests and activities.  Unlike younger generations, baby boomers are nearing retirement age and have interests that pertain to health and well being, travel, financial security, and a less risky lifestyle than the younger generation.  Gender plays a significant role in how older adults use online social groups and what they are expecting from a social network site.  Baby Boomer women are leading men in online social group usage.

In general, women have little reluctance in meeting others.  Therefore, they find it easier than men to socialize at gatherings and to be drawn to online social groups.  This is no surprise to many since it appears socializing is genetically inbred into the female DNA.   Socializing becomes especially important as women age, and older women are active participants in social gatherings such as, morning coffee, book clubs, monthly dinners, outdoor activities, and golf leagues.  It is not the event that fulfills women’s socializing aspiration; it is the engaging in conversation with others that rounds out the social longing.

Women Baby Boomers Experiment with Online Social Groups

Many baby boomer women are also actively participating in some form of an online social group like Facebook or LinkedIn, however not all are comfortable with the use of online social groups for social discourse.  Many older baby boomer women are not as confident with their computer skills or knowledge of online social networks as their younger counterpart and thus, are not comfortable joining such social groups.  Those that do are more likely to join a network like Facebook for the sole purpose of communicating with their children rather than to meet others in their age group.

Baby boomer women who do join online groups are specifically looking for a platform that will allow them to meet others in their age category. They make friends with others for the sole purpose of participating in group discussions and to participate in local activities they enjoy, not for the purpose of dating.  They want a site that is user friendly and assists them in maintaining their skills in current technology.  The number of women participating in generational online social groups, such as an online baby boomer social group, is gradually increasing because they find it is less intimidating and more likely to provide the audience and social activities they desire.

Single baby boomer women are more likely to sign up for age specific group events over married women. The recent census data concluded that 43% of the US population over 50 years old is single and living alone; over 60% of this segment of the population is women.  The fact is that baby boomer women are more likely than men to be single sometime in their life from divorce or the death of a mate.  This puts a demand among this generation to be socially involved unlike generations in the past.  My observations are that when a local event is organized on an online activity group, there will be 6 to 8 women to one man signing up for the event, most of whom are single.  And depending on the event, a married woman will also sign up her spouse, but she has no hesitation to sign for herself if the spouse is not interested.

Baby Boomer women flock together

Age specific online social groups are very popular with women, especially women over 50 years of age.   In fact, memberships of groups that cater to baby boomers are likely to be 6 to 1 in favor of women members. In addition, these women are more likely to blog and add photos to a generational social group than they are to a multi-generational site like Facebook.  Part of the appeal of a generational social group is knowing the other members are facing many of the similar lifestyle issues and discussions are simpler to initiate.  As mentioned earlier, women find socializing easier than men especially with other women in their own age group.

 

A man will approach socializing differently and is the topic of the second Part of this article.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Transitional Period for The Newly Retired


 

You could describe retirement as a point in time when you are no longer working to support an aggressive lifestyle, or it can be described as a period when you can pick and choose what you want to do in life. Either way, once your retirement starts you’ll discover that you need a transitional period of 12 to 18 months before you really get into the swing of being retired.

 

When to retire?

Work is ultimately about the choices of making money,  job satisfaction, and family life.  Retirement is about family life and self interest.  On average, over 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age each day.  Knowing when to retire from a career varies from person to person, but when the choices of making money and job satisfaction are no longer critical in your life, retirement is a good option.  Retirement for Baby Boomers no longer means, “a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life.”  In fact, if you ask any Baby Boomer in retirement, they are likely to tell you they are busier in retirement than they were prior to retiring.  Why is this?  Because retirement affords you the opportunity to catch up on lost opportunities or to do things you’ve been meaning to do for some time.

I believe there are certain circumstances when a person should truly consider retirement.  I can think of three situations where a person over 60 years of age may find it beneficial to retire:

  • You have retirement funds that will permit you to retire; and you no longer can perform your chosen career at peak performance,
  • Your health is affected negatively by your current working profession,
  • A love one, be it a parent or spouse, requires your care.

Ultimately, it is an individual choice as to when to retire.  But, when you do decide, a strange and unsettling feeling overcomes you as you start your retirement journey.  This is the start of your transition into retirement.


Lack of routine is unsettling

The first thing you discover after you retire is the lack of any daily routine.  For over 40 years you have been getting up each morning with a pre-defined goal for the day and a schedule of events.  Now, in retirement, there is none of that and there is a feeling of being lost.  It happens to all of us and it is very difficult to get into a new routine when we are conditioned to our working routine.  There are those who say, “I long for the time when I have no routine.”  But ultimately, we need some sort of routine, albeit not the type we have been accustomed to during our career.

So the first day of retirement begins the transition into a new way of thinking and a new lifestyle.  Sometimes you feel anxious because there is a little voice in your head telling you, “there should be something I need to do or some place I need to be.”  You have been encouraged to get your financial state in order for retirement, but you neglect the mental adjustment and lifestyle changes that come with retirement.  Don’t stress about this, it is a natural feeling and you can get over it very quickly.

I have the fortunate experience to be retired twice from my career.  The first time was completely stressful.  I wasn’t prepared for the abrupt change in my day to day schedule.  I maintained a daily workout regimen, but after finishing my daily workouts, I was generally without a schedule and without any of my friends and acquaintances.  Most of the people I knew were still employed full time and only available on weekends for activities.  It was difficult to meet people, and social groups, as we know them today, were not available on the internet.  So, I discovered that continuing to work was my best option and I went back for nine more years.

Transition is a two step process

My second retirement in 2010 was much different.  I knew what to expect after I left corporate life and made plans to embrace my retirement right away.  Fortunately, for me, the nine year difference also ushered in a new way to adapt to my retirement lifestyle; the development of social networks on the internet.  With the advent of social networks and social groups I was able to solve the issues I had the first time around in retirement.  That is, for me to meet other retirees with similar interests in an easy way.

Armed with experience from the past, I set out a plan to avoid the disappointments of my first try at retirement.  In my plan, each month for the first year I assigned myself with some family or general interest activity that took me away from home.  This kept my attention focused and provided me with a schedule of accomplishments.  It was like being on a long vacation.  What I was able to accomplish with my retirement transition plan was a state of relaxation shortly after my retirement date.  By keeping busy with enjoyable events that involved family and self interest activities, I was able to keep that feeling of relaxation and make the mental transition to a non career lifestyle.  And now, the second phase of the plan is to continue participating in self interest activities as I grow into the retirement lifestyle.

Internet social networks and groups make the pursuit of activities so much easier than in the past and allow you to meet people who enjoy the same activities.   Starting or joining a Baby Boomer social group has the benefit of not only meeting others of the same generation, but also makes retirement more memorable by participating in events that are likely to appeal to others with the same interests.  I discovered that in a Baby Boomer social network, it doesn’t matter if you are married, single, male, or female. When you meet socially with people of your own age, there is openness and camaraderie that is instantly formed between strangers.  Topics for discussion easily arise and friendship outgrowth is almost assured.  In large part, this is due to a generational bond, a similarity in where group members are in their life, as well as where they have been.  This bonding happens whether meeting in person or virtually on the internet.

Plan for some excitement

Enter retirement not only financially prepared, but also emotionally prepared.  It is easy to say, “I look forward to the freedom.” But in reality there is a huge emotional shift that is needed to ease into the retirement lifestyle.  Setting up a 12 to 18 month plan will accomplish the goal setting needed to shift into retirement thinking. Also, meeting others with similar interests will perpetuate you into new and interesting activities that will sustain you with a fulfilling and happy lifestyle you can call, “your retirement.”

What a Baby Boomer should look for in a Social Network

So, the kids are gone and you want to stay in touch with your friends and family while taking advantage of the new found freedom bestowed upon you. You’ve considered joining a social network and/or a social group on the internet, but you are not sure what will provide you the best fit?  For Baby Boomers, there are 3 considerations when choosing a social network:

  • Finding a site that other Baby Boomers frequent for compatibility
  • Finding a site that offers Activities specific to your age group
  • Finding a site that is not too difficult to navigate, but will keep members current on technology

Why are these considerations important? Let’s examine each consideration in detail.

Find a site that other Baby Boomers frequent for compatibility


Why is it important to find a site that other Baby Boomers are members?  Building age specific relationships is easier than going across generational lines, and building social relations as one ages is important.   “The idea that social interaction is important to mental and physical health has been hinted at and studied for years,” says Stephen Joyal, M.D., vice president of scientific affairs and medical development for life extensions, a nonprofit dedicated to the research on extending the human lifespan.  A meta-study released in the summer of 2010 from researchers at Brigham Young University has determined the link is more direct than previously imagined. Social isolation, according to the meta-study, which included 148 different studies totaling more than 300,000 participants and reported by Forbes, can have a serious negative impact on your lifespan. Those with adequate or high social relationships – friends, family, neighbors or colleagues – were found to have 50% greater likelihood of survival then their friendless counterparts.

Find a site that offers Activities specific to your age group


A strong consideration for a Baby Boomer website should be to promote physical well-being and interests. Physical well-being is equally as important as social well-being. To that end a social network should strive to provide members the ability to build “interest” groups. Interest change as we age and having active interests groups allow members to schedule events with others with similar interests. The importance of activities as one age has been documented in numerous studies associated with use and exercise for physical well-being. Correlated closely with improved mobility, the importance of physical activity in middle age can best be rationalized by the phrase “use it or lose it”. Research shows that among men and women aged 50 to 69 years and across all weight ranges, the rate of decreased physical ability later in life was twice as high among those who are less physically active. Physical activity of about 30 minutes three or more times a week resulted in fewer than 13% of people developing some sort of physical disability, while this rate increased to 24% where subjects were less active. Steady routine physical training and an active lifestyle of travel, outdoor activities, and moderate physical competition in middle age not only benefits people in terms of weight lost – it also helps them to remain physically healthy and active later in life. Being part of a social “interest” group helps makes it easier to maintain this active regimen.

Find a site that is not too difficult to navigate, but will keep members current on technology

The final consideration for selection of social network is to provide tools and techniques that allow middle age individuals to remain somewhat current in the use of internet technologies. Two direct benefits are derived by achieving this goal: By learning how to navigate a web site, a stimulation of brain cells occur that is beneficial in warding off negative effects associated with age related memory loss. Additionally, continued familiarity with internet applications ease the learning curve and adoption as technology evolves. The importance of staying current with technology cannot be minimized. One only has to reflect back on the last 20 years to see how much technology has played a major role in day-to-day living. Without keeping up with current technology trends, one can only imagine what is ahead for our society in the next 20 years.


A child like approach to Social Network




As a child, remember how easy it was to make friends? Today I watched children go into a playground and within a half hour they are all talking with each other and discussing what activity they will focus on next. Like all other social interaction, it takes an effort to reach out to another, at the risk of being rejected. But, if the effort is successful, it is likely that a friendship emerges and it increases your social network.

As We get Older

As we age into our 20’s and 30’s, we continue to reach out to others in a gesture of increasing our social network. Why? Because we continue to build our social network with people of similar interests and find others who we can share experiences and activities with. For example, when you go to a park and see volleyball games in progress, let it be known you would like to join in and you are likely to get into a game. The desire to play outweighs any fear in asking strangers who may also become part of your social network.

Today, we see how online social networks bring together people from all walks of life and in every corner of the earth under the same rules as found on the playground. It is the 20 to 30 something population that has popularized this form of friendship. Almost effortlessly, this generation makes acquaintances on the social sites by reaching out and asking to join in. It has become so popular that the older generations are being dragged into joining, much to their initial protest. Many Baby Boomers and some seniors join a social network to communicate with family members and take little or no steps to socialize with others of their own generation. Why is that? Making friends requires effort and taking risks that many Baby Boomers and Senior did not learn in their youth. In fact, a Baby Boomers’ social network is generally restricted to childhood friends and family.

How Baby Boomers and Seniors respond to Social Networks

Embrace technology

Senior man and woman on a social network

I manage a local social network group for Baby Boomers and Seniors. Ninety percent of the members of this social group list “making new friends” as their primary reason for joining the group. My role is to provide an adult social gathering event and, group members with interest in the event show up and engage with the expectation of expanding their social network. It takes an effort for members to go to the event and reach out to introduce oneself, an effort that many in this age group find difficult.

As a developer of a social network for baby boomers and seniors, I see a greater reluctance for members to engage. Many people just sign up and wait for something to happen. This is not unique to our site, but also on larger sites like Facebook. Just signing up and not making the effort to participate is like going to the playground and sitting at the edge. You can watch what everybody else is doing, but not many people will go out of their way to get you involved in an activity.

To truly benefit from social networks, and to build ones relationships, the rules are no different than playground rules. Find an activity of interest (you like the see-saw – go join the people on the see-saw), share it with others nearby (see who else likes the see-saw), get to ask questions of your new friend (get to know your new see-saw friends) and participate in a couple events (now try the swings and the slide). It is that simple, and the results will be the same; you will get to learn if you have anything in common with the other person and if future activities are in order (if you like the kids you are playing with, you will most likely play with them again).


Contributed by Ron Mercier, developer of the web site: www.activeemptynesters.com. His web site is for baby boomers and seniors to build local social networks and enjoy activities targeted for the 50+ population.

Develop confidence in a social network



While social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn are popular, they are used more by the younger population more than the Baby Boomer generations because of some misconceptions. Many Boomers join these web sites only to stay in touch with family. However, the high percentage of younger members, crowd out the interests of the more mature members and often intimidate these members from being more involved.

Older Baby Boomers and Seniors are tentative

As technology moves forward with new and creative ways to stay connected, many of the older baby boomer and seniors’ generation, in general, opt out of joining social networks for a myriad of reasons. Without a doubt one of the main reasons is the lack of familiarity with computing technology and applications other than email and word processing. Motivation for adapting to change as one age is very low.

Other excuses for not being more involved in social networks vary, but I hear several themes consistently as to why joining the computer social revolution is avoided at all costs. “I don’t want to be a slave (addicted) to my computer” or “I have privacy concerns” are at the top of the list. Negative media coverage often form opinions based on a several isolated cases that are frankly exceptions, which reinforce the desire not to be involved and provides justification for one’s fear of technology.


There are those who are “addicted” to their computer and their Facebook account. Recently there were stories that some Facebook members are on their computer 6 to 8 hours a day. Is that every Facebook member? No. Is that behavior typical? No. Does it make for a unique story line and draw an audience? Yes. I bet we all know people that work 10 to 12 hour days? Some work these hours because that is what it takes to get the job done. But some do it because they like it. Does that mean work, in general, is addicting? I don’t think so. Some people spend hours on Facebook and other internet activities because they are required for their business, while others are receiving pleasure from doing so. Studies show anything in excess is not healthy and I don’t advocate anyone spending 6 to 8 hours a day on a social network anymore that I advocate spending 10 to 12 hours at work. But to link a social networking participation and the likelihood of imminent addiction is a stretch.

Likewise the fear of lack of privacy on a social network has been overblown. The media stories told about accounts being hacked are often related to very poor judgment by the member, not by the web site. First, let me make one fact clear, nothing on the internet is safe or private. The Pentagon was hacked earlier this year and if we can’t keep our Defense Industry safe on the internet, I can assure you if someone wanted your information, there is nothing that will stop them from doing so. Emails, text, banking transactions, credit card transactions, yes everything is subject to privacy breach. So the idea emails are safe and social networks are not, is a fallacy. For that matter, phone conversations are subject to being hacked and are as likely to be hacked as well as your social networking account.

Using some common sense is the best defense

To ensure relative privacy on the internet is to control personal information from being exposed in the first place. Privacy settings are provided for the purpose limiting others ability to view your account. Embrace technologyPeople’s account on Facebook or other social networks may be hacked by professionals, but if you don’t put personal data on the site, you will maintain relative anonymity with the rest of the world. Personal data are not things like name, date of birth, address. Remember, for most people, home address is found in the phone book and has for decades, and date of birth is public record on several sites like municipal web sites. Personal data that matter are social security number, banking information, income data, etc… There is no need for this information to be on any social networking site, period. Also, it is not necessary to post your whereabouts on a day to day basis. So if a site asks for personal data, don’t provide it!

Baby boomers and seniors need to stay current with technology or risk the loss of their independence as they age. There is no question that applied technology will continue to change our social fabric and the way we live and do business in the future. Baby boomers and seniors need to find the motivation to make changes in their lifestyle and to keep them current with technology. Resisting these technology advances by abstinence only makes it more difficult to participate while increases the dependence on others. Independence has been the foundation of the baby boomer generation and a costly thing to lose.



Contributed by Ron Mercier, developer of the web site: www.activeemptynesters.com. His web site is for baby boomers and seniors to build local social networks and enjoy activities targeted for the 50+ population.

Reflection on a 40th anniversity of Morrison's death

I read a recent Blog about the anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison, lead singer of the group Doors. His death in Paris 40 years ago on July 3rd brings back memories of his songs and antics of the late 60’s. He was part of the baby boomer generation that helped change our society as did the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, all ending their careers within months of each other from the excesses of their profession.

As I think back, I remember playing the Door’s music at parties and get-togethers that often led to late nights and hangovers the next day. I spent this period between New England where I was born, and California my newly adopted home. This was the Vietnam period when many of us young men were waiting for our draft notice. It was the beginning of the Hippie movement as well. A time where “Love and War” emotions were running across the country spurred on by the baby boomer generation who believed “alls fair in Love and War”. For me, it was a great time to be alive and each day would bring something new or some sort of a change to the status quo that rocked the pillars of our society.

Fast forward 40 years, the baby boomers are still in the forefront of controversy and change. We are all aging and pushing that retirement threshold that is bringing a big concern for the financial well being of the nation. After all, we are an anomaly, a large population bubble that happens seldom in a nation’s history. Along the way we found time to create technology that improved our productivity, improve medical treatment, provide the world with better communication networks, and oh yes, improve our ability to feed the world on far fewer acres of land than ever before. But it’s not over yet.

Unlike generations before, baby boomers have the strength and vitality to continue to improve or change our society even into retirement age. Many of my peers will not take traditional retirement but rather will continue to innovate. I believe that we live true to Morrison’s “break on through to the other side” by our ability to age better than generations before; whether it’s because of our improved diets or maintenance of fitness levels. We deserve a pat on the back, even if we are the only ones to notice.

Walking, Hiking, Mountain Biking trails in Colorado


South Park, Colorado

South Park is a high Intermontane grassland basin, approximately 9,000 ft (2,750 m) in elevation, located in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. It encompasses approximately 1,000 square miles (2,590 km² or 640,000 acres) around the headwaters of the South Platte River in Park County. Along with North Park and Middle Park, South Park is the southernmost region of three large mountain valleys in Colorado. The largest town in the basin is Fairplay, which sits near the northern end.

In 2009, South Park was designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area. This site is intended to encourage the historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the site. There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas in the U.S. which tell a nationally important story through their distinctive landscapes, historic structures, and recreational resources. South Park’s 19th-century ranches, many old mines and other historic sites are the primary reason the area was given this designation in 2009. In addition, this part of Colorado sports some of the finest hiking, biking, and off-road trails in Colorado.

Largest Towns of South Park

Fairplay, CO

If you can imagine a miner from the Gold Rush era walking a burro down the street, you are getting a good picture of the town of Fairplay. Founded in 1867, with an elevation is 9,957 feet, the town of Fairplay is the County Seat of Park County and the largest city in South Park. With a population of 678 people within the city limits and about 1,500 more in outlying areas, the town has a main street that is bordered by 40 or so historic buildings brought here from the surrounding area including a trapper’s cabin, a saloon, general store, blacksmith shop and other businesses that thrived in the late 1800s. This amazing collection is only open during the summer months and is run entirely by volunteers.

As with most of Colorado’s mountain towns, there’s never a lack of things to do here and it is an ideal location to begin your outdoor activities. Hike or take a mountain bike up the Colorado Trail, where you will see stunning views of the South Park valley. Explore old mining towns along jeeping or ATV trails and logging roads up Mosquito Pass, Weston Pass or Boreas Pass. Camp and fish at Jefferson Lake Recreation area, a 920 acre lake at 10,700 feet. Come winter, the snow offers up a winter wonderland in which you can ski at the nearby ski resorts or at the many surrounding cross country ski trails.

Alma, CO

One of the most scenic and breathtaking towns in the U.S. is the small but important town of Alma, Colorado which is also located in the South Park area. Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America at 10,350 feet. Founded in 1873, the town boasts a population of 233, with an estimated 1,000 residents in nearby subdivisions. The current town lies downstream from the original Alma, or Buckskin Joe, as it was known during the mining heyday. At one time, area mines produced more than $1,500,000 annually before the ore diminshed and a smallpox epidemic all but wiped out town residents. This town gives you a true feel of what life was like during the mining days with many old mining claims crisscrossing the high mountains, several which are still operational.

The most fascinating thing about this town are the high mountain peaks that surround the town and the blue skies that the peaks lift up to. There are five 14 foot peaks (14ers) that rise above the town: Sherman (14,007), Mt. Bross (14,172 feet), Mt. Lincoln (14,286 feet), Mt. Democrat (14,148 feet), and Mt. Cameron (14,238 feet). There are also many 12 and 13ers which are just as mesmerizing as the 14ers. All these peaks have well marked trails for day hikes, which is a must do when visiting.


Best Hiking Trails

For spectacular views and picturesque memories you will never forget, you must hike in the South Park area. All hikes are extremely scenic, easily accessible by car, and uncrowded. Although many hikes are geared more for the serious outdoor enthusiast, there are quite a few which are fit for those looking for a nice, gradual day hike. There are well documented trails and even a blog of each trail in South Park. Any time of the year, Park County trail system will provide the outdoor enthusiast with day ventures or overnight adventures. Just remember, elevation starts at over 9,000 feet, so pace yourself and give your body time to acclimate at this elevation.

My favorite web site for trail information is Park County, CO Hiking web site. This site contains a detailed description of the trails and photos of some of the scenery along the trail. Most of the postings are dated, but very well written so you can get distance, location, and the name of each trail. GPS location will also assist you in getting the precise location. For all the top trails near Fairplay, you can visit the Top Hiking Trails near Fairplay web site. Trails for biking, hiking, snowshoe, and scenic views of wildlife to wildflowers are listed by length, difficulty and duration.

With so many trails and Fourteeners to be climbed, you’ll have a hard time deciding on just one. Take some time in your schedule to run off and explore some of the beautiful backcountry and pristine wilderness in the South Park area or just visit the Old West towns with their fascinating scenery. You will not be disappointed!