In 2018, more than 760,000 people will celebrate their 70th birthday in France. Among them, Andrée, born in Lille, Jeanette born in Liverpool and Antje born in Munich in Germany. Born just after the Second World War, they belong to the same generation as Gerard Depardieu, Ozzy Osbourne or Klaus Meine.
Their adolescence was marked by the assassination of John F. Kennedy the year of their 15th birthday, but also by the Vietnam War, the Algerian war or the construction of the Berlin Wall. They celebrated their 20th birthday in 1968, danced on Claude François, Sheila and the Beatles. Both men and women wore long hair, high-waisted and flared trousers. They drove 2 CVs, dreamed in front of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon and Andree voted for the first time in the election of Georges Pompidou. In the first years of their lives, their generation went through a period of profound cultural, economic and social change in Europe.
Baby boomers reaching 70 means an increase in population in this age bracket in many countries. Comparing the population aged 70 to 74 between 2000 and 2020, the growth of this age group is very clear in many countries: + 45% in the United Kingdom, + 44% in France, + 26% in Belgium and much lower in Germany (+ 9%), where the baby boom was much later and less significant.
Enjoying Life as Leitmotiv
Andrée has been retired for 10 years, Jeanette for 7 years and Antje for 5 years. They found their way of life outside work and had the time to adapt for several years to a budget matching their retirement pension. Even though their income has dropped, they have not given up their activities and want to continue to have fun, while making some adjustments. Thus, when Andree goes on a trip, she seldom goes abroad. She prefers to stay in France, but stays longer than her younger former colleagues.
Staying active also means engaging into community activities, and as such, volunteering is an activity shared by about 30% of people around the age of seventy, with gaps depending on country, the Germans being more involved (33%) than the Belgians (24%). Thus, Antje reads to 7-10-year-old pupils once a week. Jeanette and Andrée have not engaged into community activities.
A recent article of Recherches & Solidarités shows that the proportion of volunteers aged 50+ has been declining for several years. This is one of the characteristics of Baby Boomers, who are rather less willing to engage on a regular basis in a community association than previous generations, because they want to keep some freedom in organizing their schedule. We must therefore expect to see a decrease in the commitment to the community of the current 70-year-olds, the first representatives of the baby boom generation.
More and More Frequent Health Problems
If at age seventy, the first Baby Boomers are willing to stay active and enjoy their relatives, we must not forget that the effects of ageing are beginning to be felt for some, or even already definitely present for others. The health dimension is particularly important in people’s lives, especially because of chronic diseases.
This is the case of Antje who has been practicing less and less physical activity since retirement and who is facing overweight problems. She belongs to the 54.8% of Germans aged 65-74 years old with high blood pressure. In Belgium, there are 37.3%, in France 33.6% and in the United Kingdom 39.5%.
Read our article: High blood pressure, the Plague of German Seniors
Beyond chronic diseases, there are multiple physical discomforts that appear and can hinder activities. Jeanette suffers from joint pain as 69% of English people of 70-75 years old. These pains concern 71% of French people of the same age bracket and 61% of Germans. Adapting is therefore necessary in activities, sometimes even in everyday life gestures (housework, care, etc.).
Cared-For and Caregivers
70-year-olds are sometimes led to take care of a relative, mainly the spouse. In the United Kingdom, 65% of family caregivers between 65 and 74 years old help their spouse, a proportion that exceeds 75% after 75 years. This position of family caregivers involves daily attention and can affect the physical and psychological health of caregivers.
Thus, Jeanette supports on a daily basis, her husband suffering from Alzheimer disease, despite her joint pain. She helps him eat, accompanies him on a walk and makes sure that he gets washed every night.
Internet but Not Too Much
Compared with younger retirees, 70-year-olds are less present on the web. The proportion of those who go online every day varies from one country to another, with the British outnumbering the French, Germans and Belgians with respectively 66%, 41%, 46% and 45% of the 65-74 years old, but it is growing strongly in all countries. We thus see emerge with the first Baby Boomers, the figure of the retiree interested in new technology and active on line. An attitude that allows them to maintain regular social bonds.
Thus, Andree uses Skype regularly to talk with her grandchildren, who went to study abroad. Her daughter comes to help her occasionally in her administrative procedures online: electricity, tax, keeping her bank accounts, etc. Jeanette regularly posts photos of her children and grandchildren on Facebook and uses instant messaging almost every day. Antje is completely lost and doesn’t trust the Internet. She only uses it when she has to.
To be 70 years old is to have some perspective on your retirement, having concretized some projects that were important to you and having given up on others. But Baby Boomers who are entering their seventh decade stand out from previous generations for their desire to stay active, despite growing physical fragility .
As we saw in the index of women’s happiness, 75-year-old women rated their happiness the highest with a rating of 7.9/10. Thus, for seniors who are 70 years old in 2018, 2023 should be a year of happiness: wisdom, resilience, altruism and patience are undoubtedly the key words of this age group.
Source : Seniosphère Conseil