…Will ALR Be Ready

This article was taken from the February 2006 newsletter, Academy Notes, published by the Academy for Learning in Retirement, Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, New York and is reprinted here with permission. The article itself was taken from a summary of a workshop given at the September, 2005 Mid Atlantic Conference, entitled “The Boomers are Coming! Will We Be Ready?”

They’ve already started beating a path to our door…post-World War II babies born between 1946 and 1964. The first batch is turning sixty, determined to stay active and healthy for years to come.

These are the babies who grew up in a new American landscape and they have a unique view of the process of aging. Members of one of Margaret Mead’s “sandwich generations,” they often face both the care of older parents and the education of children still young, while planning for their own retirements (although they don’t like the word!).

They will be/already are coming to ALR looking for classes to help them meet their challenges, inform their healthy lifestyles, entertain and challenge them. To stay viable, ALR will need to adapt to the needs of these new and different members. Members interested, as we all are, in community and lifelong learning, but who also want to use the technological tools they have had at their fingertips on the job.

They are a diverse group of people, some still working or caring for young children, aging parents, second families, children returned to the nest following divorce or job lose. Female Boomers have often pursued a wider range of professional positions than older female retirees. They are often willing to challenge authority or the status quo.

Information from Beth Lazer of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement and Rita Weimer of the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement suggests that the Boomers want:
• More flexibility in class hours – evenings and Saturdays – as many of them still work full or part-time.
• Classes to help them cope with aging parents or grandchildren.
• Finding volunteer opportunities (many of them have not volunteered during their working lives.)
• Help with making their money last through retirement.
• Classes to help them maintain their physical and mental wellness.
• Ways to express their concern about the environment and to learn more about local culture and geography.

HOW CAN ALR PREPARE?

Many lifelong learning groups like ours have formed Baby Boomer committees. We will be addressing some of these challenges at our first ALR Town Meeting to be held Friday, May 12th at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.

Elderhostel* suggests preparing for and attracting these new members in the following ways:
• Many lifelong learning programs across the country are changing their names to eliminate references to age and the use of the words “retirement,” “senior” and “elder” in order to attract Boomers.
• In publicity materials about the program, show people who look like they are in their 50s and 60s.
• Make greater use of technology: multi-media, PowerPoint presentations.
• Offer classes on caring for older parents, dependent grandchildren, handling your money.
• Hold classes at night and on weekends.
• Offer shorter classes.
• Baby Boomers don’t want lectures, they want classes with discussion opportunities, question and answer periods, formats ALR already successfully uses.
• LLI classrooms are going to have to be “smart” classrooms, wired for the very latest in computer technology, capable of handling extremely high use by the Boomers.

Come discuss these and other challenging topics at the ALR Town Meeting, Friday May 12th at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.

* Organizing for the Future, by Nancy Merz Nordstrom, M.Ed. EIN, October, 2004.






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