Here they come! Are we ready?


by Frances Edstrom

What do these people have in common: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Cher, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton?

Give up? They are in the first wave of the 78.2 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, and they will turn 60 this year.

Each day in 2006, 7,918 people will turn 60. That amounts to 330 every hour, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Know any Marys or Jims? James and Mary were the most popular baby names in 1946. Today, the names Jacob and Emily lead the list; James ranks 17th among boys and Mary is 63rd among girls.

How else will our world be changing? How about this? Utah, at 23 percent, was the only state where baby boomers constituted less than 25 percent of the population.

In 1947, only 33% of adults age 25 and older had at least a high school diploma and 5% at least a bachelor's degree. But by 2004, the respective proportions had risen to 85 percent and 28 percent. One would hope that as baby boomers are better educated than their parents, they would be better able to care for themselves financially in retirement, but the proliferation of news stories about failed pension plans might give us a clue that society will be more taxed, not less, to care for those baby boomers who are not prepared.

The average annual expenditure on health care in 2004 for people ages 45 to 54 "” the age group that is the heart of the baby boom generation "” was $2,695. When budgeting medical expenses, baby boomers should expect increased health-care spending as they age; for instance, those age 55 to 64 spent $3,262 and those 65 and over, $3,899.

In 2030, according to projections, there will be 57.8 million baby boomers between the ages of 66 and 84 "” 54.9 percent would be female. In 2031, there will be 2.1 workers for each Social Security beneficiary, when all baby boomers will be over age 65. Currently, there are 3.3 workers for each Social Security beneficiary. There were about 4,041 continuing care retirement facilities in 2003. Many boomers have parents in need of such facilities or may have to move into such a facility themselves in the future.

So depending on where you fall in age, now is the time to prepare yourself for the future. If you are a boomer, you are either going to be self-sufficient or left in the unenviable position of relying on fewer Social Security payers to support you. If you are among the age group that will be called upon to support those baby boomers, you might want to think about choosing a career path that will not only offer you your choice of jobs, but that will put you in a position to help out your aging parents (might be a good time to feel out the folks on what plans they've made for a secure future, too).

It's a whole new world to deal with. At the same time that the huge baby boom bubble will be working its way through society "” kind of like an elephant through a python "” the population in general is living longer. There has been an enormous growth, just in the ten years between 1990 and 2000, in the senior group, baby boomers' parents. There are 21% more in the 75 - 79 group; 25.7% more 80 - 84-year-olds; 35.4% more 85 - 89, and a whoppiing 44.6% more who are 90 to 94 years old. For those of us who want to live forever, good news: in 2000, the 95 years and over group grew by 34.7%.

Think about the new products that will be developed! Large print cell phones, designer walkers, low-rise Depends, pureed gourmet foods. The possibilities are endless!

I'm proud to be a world-changing baby boomer. Now I want all you youngsters to get busy saving and investing for my deluxe-longterm-care-facility-all-on-one-floor.

Baby boomers expect nothing but the best.


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