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Boomers' Prospective Needs for Senior Centers and Related Services: A Survey of Persons 50–59

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The future service needs of baby boomers are unclear. A survey addressing work/retirement, family, civic engagement, health, caregiving, leisure, and perceptions of senior services was mailed to 800 addresses randomly selected from a upper Midwestern county voter registration list. The response rate was 28%. Fifty-three percent of the respondents (N = 225) intended to work and increase civic engagement. They expected more time for hobbies and friends, and to travel more. Family will continue to be their highest priority. These findings will be useful to service providers who are invested in providing services that are attractive to boomers.
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Boomers' Prospective Needs for Senior
Centers and Related Services: A Survey
of Persons 50–59
Eileen E. MaloneBeach a & Karen L. Langeland b
a Department of Human Development & Family Studies, Central
Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA
b Department of Human Environmental Studies, Central Michigan
University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA
Published online: 17 Dec 2010.
To cite this article: Eileen E. MaloneBeach & Karen L. Langeland (2010) Boomers' Prospective Needs
for Senior Centers and Related Services: A Survey of Persons 50–59, Journal of Gerontological Social
Work, 54:1, 116-130, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2010.524283
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2010.524283
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Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 54:116–130, 2011
Copyright ©Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0163-4372 print/1540-4048 online
DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2010.524283
Boomers’ Prospective Needs for Senior
Centers and Related Services: A Survey
of Persons 50–59
EILEEN E. MALONEBEACH
Department of Human Development & Family Studies, Central Michigan University,
Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA
KAREN L. LANGELAND
Department of Human Environmental Studies, Central Michigan University,
Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA
The future service needs of baby boomers are unclear. A sur-
vey addressing work/retirement, family, civic engagement, health,
caregiving, leisure, and perceptions of senior services was mailed
to 800 addresses randomly selected from a upper Midwestern
county voter registration list. The response rate was 28%. Fifty-three
percent of the respondents ( N=225) intended to work and
increase civic engagement. They expected more time for hob-
bies and friends, and to travel more. Family will continue to
be their highest priority. These findings will be useful to service
providers who are invested in providing services that are attractive
to boomers.
KEYWORDS quantitative, social services, retirement
INTRODUCTION
As the post World War II baby boom ages, the population aged 65 and
older is projected to reach 55 million in 2020. Between 2004 and 2030,
the number of older individuals in the United States will nearly double,
reaching approximately 71.5 million (US Department of Health & Human
Received 23 February 2010; accepted 11 September 2010.
Address correspondence to Eileen E. MaloneBeach, PhD, Department of Human
Development & Family Studies, Central Michigan University, 412M EHS Building, Mount
Pleasant, MI 48859, USA. E-mail: malon1ee@cmich.edu
116
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 117
Services, 2005). In anticipation of the pending demographic shift to an aging
nation, the Older Americans Act of 1965 established Senior Citizen Centers
and charged them with the development of services and supports for the
nation’s aging population. Senior centers deliver a broad spectrum of ser-
vices to people age 60 and older, including caregiver support, adult day
services, transportation, travel services, shopping, care management, care
coordination, education, and health screenings.
In 1972, the Administration on Aging’s Elderly Nutrition Program was
established to supplement the 1965 Act. This improved the dietary status
and social integration of older adults and enhanced their general well-being
(Aday, 2003). Turner (2004) identified benefits in the areas of nutrition, social
activities, and information and found that many older adults (85% of his sam-
ple) use senior center mealtimes as a vehicle for social engagement. Older
adults who participate in senior services report lower levels of loneliness,
higher levels of life satisfaction, and a better quality of life (Kirk & Alessi,
2002). Home-delivered meals and senior nutrition sites are now common-
place, and community-dwelling older adults are able to extend their years
of independent living because of these services (Aday, 2003).
Recently, however, the numbers of attendees at senior centers and par-
ticipants in senior services are decreasing nationwide. For example, in 2003,
of 48,024,860 individuals who were 60+, 1,836,552 (3.82%) were receiv-
ing services in congregate settings. By 2006, when the total number of
elders had increased to 50,603,476 (US Census Bureau, 2010), the num-
ber of senior service recipients at congregate meal sites had declined to
1,695,740 (3.35%; Administration on Aging, 2006). The diminishing num-
bers lead to concern that senior services are losing relevance. As early
as 1993, Miner, Logan, and Spitze speculated, based on declining num-
bers, that senior social services in general, and congregate meal sites
specifically, had served their purposes and were outdated (Alt, 1998; Eaton
& Salari, 2005).
Throughout the country, as agencies conduct mandated evaluations,
providers are gaining insights into how services might be revised to optimize
their usefulness. The Arkansas Aging Initiative’s statewide survey asked older
adults (Mage =72.2 years; Range =65–103) for their opinions regarding
problems with current services and needs for improvement (Beverly, Mcatee,
Costello, Chernoff, & Casteel, 2007). Florida, where one quarter of the pop-
ulation is over 65, has initiated several programs to improve meeting and
understanding the needs of older adults including Respite for Elders Living
in Everyday Families (Department of Elder Affairs State of Florida, 2010).
In New York State, Project 2015 was created to assure that each publicly
funded entity develops a plan to better address the needs of the aging pop-
ulation (Calvo, 2010). These examples are representative of evaluations and
needs assessments, however, they are based on samples that are already 60
or older. None taps the expectations of boomers.
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118 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
LITERATURE REVIEW
Boomers are expected to pose new and different needs and demands
for services than the current clientele of older adults (Turner, 2004). The
boomers span 18 years (born between 1946 and 1964) and, like earlier
cohorts, have a wide range of both life experience and expectations for
their future. If current trends continue, boomers will live longer, healthier
lives than earlier cohorts (Crimmens, Hayward, Hagedorn, Saits, & Brouard,
2009; Manton, Gu, & Lowrimore, 2008). They have higher levels of educa-
tion, higher incomes, and are more affluent and less prepared for retirement
than previous retirees (Schulz & Binstock, 2006). But generalizations about
the boomers belie their diversity. Some boomers have retired early and oth-
ers will delay retirement, particularly as they view the impact of the current
downturn. Some will continue to work part time even after retirement for
added income, health insurance, other employer-funded benefits, and for
their social and mental health (Haas & Serow, 2002).
Boomers are the generation that “shook things up’ as teenagers and
are now expected to alter how people think about aging (Hinterlong &
Williamson, 2006; Reinventing Aging Conference White Paper, 2006). The
shake up was expected to occur in several domains: work/retirement,
family, civic engagement, health and well-being, caregiving, leisure, and
perceptions of senior services.
Work/Retirement
Prior to the 2008 recession, significant numbers of boomers indicated that
they intended to remain in the work force past their official retirement ages
(Schulz & Binstock, 2006). Between 1992 and 2004, the percentage of indi-
viduals between the ages of 51 to 56 indicating the likelihood of working
past age 65 increased from 27% to 33%. Causes for the increase included
lower rates of retiree health insurance, lower rates of defined benefit pension
coverage, and greater educational attainment (Mermin, Johnson, & Murphy,
2007). The extent to which retirement intentions predict retirement behavior
remains to be seen (Barkin, 2009; Morgan & Eckert, 2004). Plans to return
to some kind of postretirement employment, to decrease hours rather than
retire fully, or to continue with full-time work are all alternatives to earlier
plans to retire that are explored in this study.
Family
Family is expected to be a significant aspect of life for retirees. Dorfman
(2002) argued that the family is one of the most stable social institutions
and that people turn to family for social support for assistance in both good
times and bad. In two longitudinal studies of intergenerational exchanges,
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 119
the frequency of interaction was related to levels of financial, social sup-
port, and instrumental exchange (Lennartsson, Silverstein, & Fritzell, 2010).
A national sample of 800 boomers turning 60 revealed that 80% would like
to spend more time with loved ones (Gordon, Keegan, & Fisher, 2006). This
sample was asked to describe their current involvement with family and
their expectations for continuity and change in the roles and time spent
with family when they were retired.
Civic Engagement
Civic engagement is comprised of actions in two domains, political and
social, and is defined as citizen-initiated actions that have consequences,
hopefully beneficial, for communities (Hinterlong & Williamson, 2006). The
benefits of civic engagement, whether immediate or delayed, accrue to older
adults in terms of physical and social activity, physical and mental health,
cognition, and the development of skills (Hinterlong & Williamson, 2006;
Morrow-Howell, Hong, & Tang, 2009). In addition, benefits are received
by the recipients of the engagement, including children and adolescents,
older adults, and the greater community (Achenbaum, 2007). American
Association for Retired Persons’ (AARP’s) Boomers Turning 60 (Gordon,
et al., 2006) survey reported that 47% of the respondents indicated a desire
to volunteer more within the next 5 years. This investigation assumes that
some boomers are already engaged in their communities and philanthropies,
and others are in the process of deciding if and how they will be involved
post retirement. Thus, questions tapped levels of current civic engagement
and their thinking about the amount and type of civic engagement they
anticipate in retirement.
Health and Well-Being
By the year 2020, 157 million Americans are expected to have some type of
chronic illness (www.partnershipforsolutions.org). Even though boomers are
expected to live longer, more years may translate to more time with chronic
conditions (Crimmens, et al., 2009; Liang et al., 2008; Martin, Freedman,
Schoeni, & Andreski, 2009), the need for a caregiver to help manage one’s
disabilities, or the need to care for an aging family member. AARP’s turning
60 (Gordon et al., 2006) reported that 87% of their sample (N=800) of
boomers approaching 60 wanted to make a life change and take better
physical care of themselves. This survey asked participants about their sense
of health and well-being as they neared retirement.
Caregiving
More than 34 million people over the age of 20 provide care for
an individual aged 50+who is chronically ill or living with disability
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120 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
(www.thefamilycaregiver.org); over 65% of the caregivers are women and
13% of the caregivers are 65+(www.caregiving.org). Almost 70% of older
adults who need care depend on informal providers, their families and
friends (www.caregiver.org). Family members assume these responsibilities
for a variety of reasons including obligation, love, filial responsibility, values,
sense of duty, reciprocity, and fear of placing a loved one in an institution
(Peters-Davis, Moss, & Pruchno, 1999). This investigation sought to measure
the extent to which boomers anticipate parent care, as well as consider their
own needs for care as they age.
Leisure
The social construction of retirement as full-time leisure may not be realis-
tic for boomers, many of whom have not prepared adequately for lower
incomes and longer lives. Economic realities may force a reconstruc-
tion of retirement as it is known. The economic downturn has depleted
retirement accounts, increased unemployment, and forced some early retire-
ments (Mermin et al., 2007). Alternately, retirement may be delayed by the
same forces and, for older people whose retirement plans are postponed,
leisure may be increasingly important in maintaining psychosocial well-
being (Brougham, & Walsh, 2009). Hansen, Dik, and Zhou (2008) suggested
that leisure pursuits may buffer the effects of vocational disenchantment.
But will boomers look to senior services for cultivation of leisure? This sur-
vey asked respondents how they used leisure time at the present time and
how they expected to use added leisure time after retirement. Specific ques-
tions asked about involvement in age-homogenous versus age-integrated
activities, interest in learning new things, and concerns about continuing to
participate in meaningful activities.
Perceptions of Senior Services
Choi and Smith (2004) found that older adults are less to likely to use ser-
vices when they are unaware that the services are available, or when they
misunderstand the scope of services. Although their findings are specific to
older persons from minority groups, they may also provide insight into the
barriers that older adults from the dominant group encounter. In this inves-
tigation, older adults were asked what they thought about senior services in
regard to service offerings, fees and funding, and clientele (age, need, eco-
nomic status). These questions were designed to gain insight into the image
of the services, whether or not the respondent could foresee themselves as
potential users, and to any real or imagined disqualifiers for access to senior
services.
Despite increasing numbers of people over 60, participation in senior
centers is decreasing. Aging services are expected to need revision to meet
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 121
the needs of the boomers as they age (Haber, 2009). This study examines
boomers’ perception of aging services, familiarity with services provided,
their visions of work/retirement, family, civic engagement, health and well-
being, leisure, and what aging services they intend or expect to use. The
purpose of this study is to examine baby boomers’ visions of their retire-
ment, to identify what aging services they intend or expect to use, and what
alternatives they would prefer.
METHOD
Procedure
Residents of an upper Midwestern county, aged 50–59 years, were randomly
selected from the voter registration list made available through the county
clerk’s office. Surveys were mailed to 800 names, randomly selected from
the list of 10,509 voters by selecting every 15th name until the 800 names
were identified. Funds from the evaluation budget of a senior service agency
and a university grant permitted a maximum of 800 mailings, which included
a self-addressed stamped envelope to increase the likelihood of response.
Forty of the 800 surveys were returned as “not deliverable as addressed”
(Table 1). Of the 760 remaining surveys, 225 were returned for a response
rate of 29%. Individuals who responded to the survey remained anonymous
unless they choose to identify themselves. All procedures were approved by
a university institutional review board.
Sample
The sample was comprised of men and women between the ages of 50 and
61 inclusive. Sixty percent of the respondents were women (n=135). Eighty
percent (n=182) were married, and almost all were of White/European
ethnicities (n=211; 93.8%). Seventeen percent (n=40) were high school
graduates and 25.8% (n=58) had completed baccalaureate degrees. Over
6% (n=14) had achieved advanced degrees. Most were long-term res-
idents of the county (Myears spent in county =30.30; SD =17.12;
Range =.3659). No direct measure of income was taken. However, the
educational attainment of the respondents suggests above average incomes.
Forty-one percent (n=93) reported that they intend to work in retirement.
Fourteen percent (n=33) described themselves as retired and still working.
Instruments
The 24-item survey posed a battery of demographic questions regarding
age, sex, marital status, ethnicity, education, professional/work experience,
retirement status, current and anticipated civic engagement and work
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122 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
TABLE 1 Sample Characteristics (N=225)
Characteristic N%
Sex
Men 90 40
Women 135 60
Age in years
M55.10
SD 2.72
Range 50–61
Education
<High school diploma 7 3.1
High school diploma 40 17.8
Some college 42 18.7
Baccalaureate degree 58 25.8
Advanced degree 14 6.2
Vocational/technical 47 20.9
Other 13 5.8
Marital status
Single 14 6.2
Married 182 80.9
Widowed 4 1.8
Divorced 23 10.2
Other 2 0.9
Ethnicity
White/European descent 211 93.8
Black/African descent 2 0.9
Hispanic/Latino 2 0.9
Asian 1 0.4
Native American 4 1.8
Other 5 2.2
activities, household composition, and proximity of family members. The
survey also asked what came to mind when they thought of the local senior
center (image of the center and services) and what services they were aware
of. In addition, the survey asked respondents what service would improve
their satisfaction with leisure activities. Drawing from a list of current ser-
vices, respondents were asked to identify which of these they expected to
use in the future. Further, respondents were asked to imagine themselves
and their changing needs for services and activities as they age.
ANALYSIS
Work/Retirement
Forty-five percent (n=102) of the sample was retired at the time of the sur-
vey. Another 33% intended to continue to work full time until full retirement,
and of those not yet retired, 52% (n=93) expected to work in retirement
(Table 2).
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 123
TABLE 2 Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test of Differences Between Current Leisure Activities
and Expectations for Leisure in Retirement
Current Expected Zscore Significance
Hobbies
M1.24 1.22 2.04 .050
SD .43 .41
Travel
M1.37 1.25 5.14 .000
SD .48 .43
Educational activities
M1.77 1.70 2.98 .010
SD .42 .45
Family
M1.11 1.11 .57 NS
SD .32 .31
Friends
M1.30 1.27 2.29 .050
SD .44 .44
Civic engagement
M1.69 1.44 6.82 .001
SD .46 .49
Other activities
M1.75 1.66 3.04 .010
SD .43 .50
Family
Eighty-seven percent of the participants were married at the time of the
survey. One hundred forty-four of the participants (64%) had living parents.
Of these, 84 (56%) respondents had parents who resided within 50 miles.
Even more 86% (n=194) had children and 113 of the respondents had
children who were residing within 50 miles. Eighty-eight percent (M=1.11;
SD =.32) of the respondents valued spending time with their families at the
time of the interviews; 88% (M=1.11; SD =.31) expected to prioritize family
time in retirement. Increasing time with family was identified as a motivator
for decreasing involvement in work, however, no significant difference was
found between current time spent with family and expected time with family
in retirement.
Civic Engagement
Of 213 respondents, 31% indicated that they were currently volunteering
(M=1.69; SD =.46) and 96% (n=217) expected to increase civic
engagement in retirement (M=1.44, SD =.49). Wilcoxon comparison of
nonparametric distributions was significant (Z=6.82; p<.000).
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124 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
Health and Well-Being
Seventy-three percent (n=164) of the sample expressed concern about
managing health and avoiding potential physical problems. Sixty-four
percent (n=144) reported that they needed to make an effort to maintain a
healthy lifestyle, and 43% (n=96) wondered if their current housing would
be suitable as they aged and their needs for support increased. Related
to health and well-being, 54% (n=121) felt uncertain about being able
to afford the goods and services that they might need as they aged; this
included worries about rising health care costs.
Caregiving
Forty-nine percent (n=110) expressed concern about caring for a spouse
or parent and 44% (n=99) indicated that they would use services related
to caregiving. They looked to senior services to learn about and to get help
with caregiving, if and when the need arose.
Leisure
The survey specified education, hobbies, time with friends, and travel as
leisure pursuits. Ninety-four percent (n=211) of the respondents indicated
that they enjoy learning new things and 23% (n=52) were interested in edu-
cational activities. About 42% (n=95) of those who indicated an interest
in learning new things expected this learning to occur at the senior center.
To compare current activities (“How do you spend your leisure time now?”)
with expectations in retirement (“How do you expect to spend your leisure
time in retirement?”), Wilcoxon signed ranks tests were used; this test is
appropriate for non-parametric distributions based on multiple responses
(Table 2). Significant differences were found for hobbies (Z=−2.04;
p<.05), travel (Z=−5.14; p<.000), education (Z=−2.98; p<.01),
friends (Z=−2.29; p<.05), civic engagement (Z=−6.82; p<.05), and
for other (Z=−3.04; p<.01). Respondents expected to be more involved
in hobbies, travel, civic engagement and other.
Perceptions of Senior Centers
Sixty-seven individuals (29%) reported enjoying group activities and 68%
(n=153) indicated they would use a senior center. Respondent’s primary
perception of senior centers is a place to engage socially and, second, as a
place for activities. Learning about family caregiving was a specific area of
interest indicated by slightly over 30% of the respondents, some of whom
were providing care for their parents or noting that parent care was in their
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 125
futures. Almost 45% indicated that they would come to the senior center to
learn about family caregiving if the need for such information manifested.
DISCUSSION
In this study, boomers were asked to describe their specific ideas about
retirement and their anticipated involvement in senior services. These
respondents expected continuity in family involvement, and they intended
to increase their travel, work, education, and civic engagement. Their con-
cerns for late life included managing their health and physical problems,
maintaining a healthy life style, becoming a caregiver, and meeting their
needs as they age in their current home.
The decline in numbers of participants in senior services may not be
a reflection of declining interest or negative attitudes toward senior ser-
vices; alternately, people may be age eligible but not in need of services
(Crimmens et al., 2009). They are not becoming service users at the same
rate as older frailer people are exiting from services. These findings, like
those of Freedman (2007) and Fries (2004) suggest that, for boomers, needs
for services may emerge later in life than they did for older cohorts.
The findings from this study provide a glimpse of what boomers expect
in retirement. First, family involvement was highly valued. These respon-
dents intended to maintain strong family ties, in part, because they prefer
to spend their time with people of varied ages, including children. Yet, the
age configuration of the families represented by this sample suggests that
the proximity of both parents and young adult children has the potential
to strain the middle generation’s resources. Overall, this sample appeared
to be well nested within family and intended to maintain family ties above
everything else that was discussed.
The preference for heterogeneous groups and continuity suggests that
service providers rethink age-segregated programs for elders and promote
community centers rather than senior centers. The findings are consistent
with the specification of a senior center as a multipurpose center, which
delivers a broad spectrum of services. The Foster Grandparent Program is
an example of a decentralized and age-integrated program with appeal to
current older adults and potentially to boomers as they age. However, it
has minimum age standards; senior services that are supported by local
mil levies, foundations, and private philanthropies are not limited to a 60+
clientele. Age and community integration may enhance the attractiveness
of senior centers and services if they are increasingly age- and community-
integrated.
This sample also appeared to have given thought to continued learning
in their retirement years, but they did not plan to turn to senior services for
courses or learning opportunities. Respondents were relatively well educated
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126 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
and almost all (94%) indicated that they like to learn new things. Yet, fewer
than half viewed senior centers as a place to learn and they preferred to
guide their own learning. They may be uninformed about the educational
offerings of senior centers, or they preferred to learn different things than
what is currently offered. Senior centers will be challenged to offer education
that will attract a critical mass of elders. Well-educated boomers might be
asked to take the lead on this, proposing classes and teaching others in their
areas of expertise.
Conversely, this sample did seek learning regarding specific health chal-
lenges that they had encountered. For example, they wanted more and easy
access to information regarding stroke, thrombosis, and heart attack because
someone in their family had recently experienced such a health crisis. This
emphasizes the value of locating education materials at the point of crisis
(medical specialist’s office, emergency room, nutrition sites) as well as at
senior service centers.
These boomers were also concerned with aging well, maintaining or
establishing a healthy life style, affording retirement, and remaining in their
own homes. These concerns may reflect successful educational outreach
regarding healthy lifestyles, the costs of retirement, and the adaptations
made to buildings, both public and private. These will be key areas for
service and outreach continuity when targeting boomers, and might be
addressed without jeopardizing services to needy older adults.
The expectation that caregiving may be in one’s future is part of the
reinventing required of boomers (Dychtwald, 2009; Dychtwald & Kadlec,
2009). In spite of widespread family caregiving, only half of the respondents
in this study were concerned about it. First, the respondents inferred that
the question about caregiving referred to parent care; they did not think of
caregiving in terms of being a recipient of care. However, Martin et al. (2009)
reported that healthy life expectancy of boomers has not been improving
compared to that of earlier cohorts. Further, boomers may underestimate the
demands of family caregiving. The respondents in this study were unlikely
to consider the possibility that they might be involved in parent care while
living with a chronic condition of their own. Overall, the boomer’s seemed
overly optimistic in applying the public information about caregiving to their
personal lives.
Of those who were currently involved in or anticipating parent care,
less than one-third, looked to senior centers for guidance on this issue, even
in the wake of national and local initiatives on family caregiving. Perhaps
because the need for these services seems distant, efforts at outreach fall on
deaf ears. More outreach and public information may yet be needed.
One of the benefits of retirement appears to be increased civic engage-
ment. Senior services depend on sizable numbers of volunteers. Thirty
percent of boomers are currently involved in volunteering and AARP pre-
dicts that this will increase to 56% as the boomers retire (Gordon et al.,
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Boomers’ Needs for Services 127
2006). These data indicate that boomers will continue to contribute to the
causes in which they are already involved. If continuity is the pattern in
civic engagement, recruitment of younger and preretirement volunteers can
address the future needs of senior services for volunteer workers, as well as
increase services to the neediest of older adults today. Yet, the recruitment
of older adults who have not been volunteers can be successful through
organizational practices such as recognition, choice among activities, and
remuneration for costs incurred while volunteering (Morrow-Howell et al.,
2009; Tang, Morrow-Howell, & Hong, 2009).
Further, integration with other philanthropic organizations will encour-
age those who are already involved to coordinate efforts across agencies to
meet the needs of older adults, as well as other population groups. Managers
and staff of senior services may be encouraged by these data to lend their
expertise in service delivery, community outreach, volunteer recruitment,
and needs assessment to community groups, community centers, doctors’
offices, recreational centers, and universities, and to coordinate activities
with them to target younger volunteers to meet current, continuing, and
future needs for civic engagement.
Finally, these boomers intend to travel more. In addition, they want to
spend time with their families, and they prefer age-heterogeneous compan-
ions. These preferences have implications for travel and tourism industries,
and for the excursions planned by senior services. Intergenerational family
packages may be preferred in the future.
Although these findings are based on a sizeable sample, some lim-
itations need to be considered. First, persons who are not voters were
excluded because of drawing participants from the county voter registra-
tion list. Second, the study was located in a rural underserved area that
also includes an industrial town, which hires well-educated people to con-
duct research and development. Income levels may be bimodal, but no
direct assessment of incomes was included because of concern that it would
inhibit participation. Third, the response rate was just below 30%. This indi-
cates that fully two-thirds of the recipients of the survey did not respond to
it; their intentions for retirement remain unknown at this time.
AARP reported that the boomers can be expected to reinvent retirement
(Gordon et al., 2004). Others have also argued for alternatives to retirement
in general and to aging services in particular (Dychtwald, 2009; Dychtwald
& Kadlec, 2009; Haber, 2009). Overall, these findings suggest that boomers
are anticipating retirement as a time of continuity with recalibration. They
are not seeking or opposed to new social roles but they do wish to spend
more time and energy in certain domains (such as increased engagement in
a specific volunteer setting or philanthropy) and to limit attention to others.
Barnes and Parry (2004) found that individuals who achieved some continu-
ity in activities or relationships before and after retirement achieved higher
levels of quality of life. Additionally, retirement can be an opportunity to
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128 E. E. MaloneBeach and K. L. Langeland
acquire new social roles. If senior services are to remain relevant, their ser-
vice options must be altered to meet the needs of the next wave of older
adults (Pardasani, 2004). The specific continuity boomers are seeking may
be one of the keys to keeping services to older adults relevant. As suggested
by Haber, boomers may have no intention of shaking things up in their
private lives but they may well shake up services.
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