‘Faux fam­i­lies,’ ‘retro sports’ likely new trends for ag­ing boomers

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen­nifer Harper

The na­tion’s 78 mil­lion baby boomers will not go gen­tly into old age.

They are vast in num­ber and heavy in buy­ing power, and have emerged with a few un­ortho­dox 1960s be­hav­iors in­tact.

Klatches of sin­gle boomers may start form­ing “faux fam­i­lies” to share hol­i­days, daily liv­ing and life’s big mo­ments, at least ac­cord­ing to the Top 10 Boomer Trends Fore­cast from Age Lessons, a Chicago-based mar­ket­ing group.

Tra­di­tional re­tire­ment-friendly sports such as golf or ten­nis will get com­pe­ti­tion from throw­backs from the Beaver Cleaver era. Goofy “retro sports” such as tether ball, flag tag and even hop­scotch will reemerge on the streets and in “mi­cro-de­vel­op­ments,” with cul-de­sacs ded­i­cated to such ac­tiv­i­ties.

We’re talk­ing boomer hous­ing de­vel­op­ments criss­crossed by “Aer­o­bic Av­enue” and “Hik­ing Heights,” the list notes.

“By dint of size and pur­chas­ing clout, the boomer co­hort con­tin­ues to set trends in ar­eas as wide-rang­ing as the work­place, well­ness, tech­nol­ogy, re­cre­ation, fam­ily life and pol­i­tics,” spokes­woman Lau­rel Kennedy said.

Boomers, she pre­dicted, will “re­dis­cover their revo­lu­tion­ary roots and en­gage in the po­lit­i­cal fray to in­flu­ence the elec­toral agenda and out­comes” while en­gag­ing in a spate of hip­pie-era sta­ples such as sto­ry­telling, folk­lore and sundry artis­tic pur­suits. Big per­sonal events — an­niver­saries, birth­days and the like — will pro­vide fod­der for the next wave of re­al­ity television de­voted to over-the-top lifestyle cel­e­bra­tions.

A new le­gal field may emerge as well: ar­bi­tra­tors who step in be­tween boomers and their ag­ing par­ents and fi­nan­cially strapped “boomerang” chil­dren who re­turn home to roost.

Al­though she is not sup­ply­ing tech­no­log­i­cal specs, Miss Kennedy fore­casts that boomers will soon sport spe­cial­ized ear­buds — not for lis­ten­ing to Jimi Hen­drix but for help dur­ing a “se­nior mo­ment.” The quin­tes­sen­tial boomer will use “real-time data feeds” based on news an­chors’ ear prompters to sup­ply miss­ing in­for­ma­tion, she said.

“Boomers are redefin­ing what midlife looks, feels and sounds like in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, em­brac­ing tech­nolo­gies that en­able them to re­main en­gaged and ac­tive longer,” Miss Kennedy said.

Last year, boomers spent $2.3 tril­lion on elec­tron­ics and other fancy new me­dia, out­spend­ing the 18- to 39-year-old age bracket by 53 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a study by TV Land, the nos­tal­gia cable chan­nel. This week, Florida-based Boomers and Se­niors World Net­work, an In­ter­net provider, be­gan sell­ing 300 boomer-themed do­main names to ac­com­mo­date the bur­geon­ing “young se­nior” mar­ket. Its stable in­cludes Boomer­re­pub­li­cans.com, Boomer­s4hillary.com and Boomer­cash.com, among oth­ers.

Mean­while, Boomers out­spend all other age groups in cos­met­ics, restau­rants, home re­mod­el­ing, hol­i­day travel and even gar­den­ing — now re­cast as “yardening” by the Gar­den Writ­ers of Amer­ica, which main­tains that 70 per­cent of boomers en­ter­tain out­side in wellplanted bow­ers.

They are a de­ter­mined group. An AARP study of 800 boomers found that only 1 per­cent said age was a bar­rier to achiev­ing their goals, while one in five want to live to be 100.

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