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Arts & Culture

Baby Boomers Are Redefining Retirement

Karen Feagins

The Boomer generation has defied convention at every other stage of their lives, and retirement seems to be no different. 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964 are now becoming seniors, and according to the 2010 Census, people 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. Beaches resident Madeline Scales-Taylor retired four years ago and said she and many of her peers don't see themselves the same way their grandparents did at their age.


 "We treasure our time, so we’re not working up until the end," she said. "We’re saying OK, I’m going to stop working like this and work differently. Because we’re not sitting home in the rocking chair and saying bring those grandbabies over here."


When Scales-Taylor left a high profile position at Mayo Clinic, she barely took a break before becoming Executive Director role at City Kids Art Factory, a nonprofit that provides visual arts experiences for children on the Northside. Now she’s on the board of that organization and several others. She’s also raising a high school aged grandchild, she travels with her husband, and is taking classes through the University of North Florida’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.


Advertisers are taking note of the way Baby Boomers are redefining retirement. Kevyn Faulkenberry, VP Executive Creative Director at the Dalton Agency, says brands want to create messages that resonate with Boomer values.


"It’s about experiences, so it’s not so much about stuff. They’ve been a generation that’s always had stuff. They didn’t go through the Great Depression, so that kind of dynamic has changed," he said. "It’s more about what’s the experience? Whether it’s a restaurant or a vacation  or whether what experience are they going to go through what can they take away from it, they're making purchasing decisions based on that."


This Toyota ad shows an adult child at home. He assumes his Boomer parents are already sound asleep when really they’re out on the town, having a great time with friends. This, Faulkenberry said, is Madison Avenue’s reflection of how a generation of people see themselves. "You’re seeing the imagery as people who are comfortable with themselves-- very active, relaxed. The relaxation-- the fact that they’ve sort of earned this rest. Before there was much more focus on the next generation leaving something for your children and now it’s about them."


That rings true for Madeline Scales-Taylor. She's told her children not to expect a big inheritance. "Your father and I are going to spend whatever money we have," she recalls telling them. "We’re not going to straddle you with debt, but  boy don’t think you’re going to be able to quit your job when I die."