Dedicated to Baby Boomers everywhere with news you can use from around the nation and around the world
A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR
First, let me welcome you to this new site for and about a generation that is about to become a driving force in the future of this country. Following the Second World War, a new vitality came upon this land, conceived by men and women who had just been through one of the most tragic and life changing events of all time. These people, our parents and grandparents, were determined to make life better for them and their children (us). They built cities and suburbs, schools and hospitals. They started businesses that were the envy of people all over the world and, they had kids, lots of kids. And, as we "baby boomers" grew up and had kids of our own we imparted certain values to our children. Some of those values were that of our parents and some were brand new. They were our own. We were a generation that took chances. We were a generation of explorers and dreamers. We believed in a better world for all. And, although we are still working on some of those dreams we know that because of us, the wheels have been set in motion for others to fulfill.
Now, we are getting older, this once important generation of ours, and some people think that we no longer matter. We are not viable anymore, but they are wrong. As more and more of us reach the age of retirement, we will become a major force both economically and politically and, anybody who thinks that we are not a force to be reckoned with will find themselves left behind, gasping in our dust. The best years of our lives a ahead of us and, whether they like it or not, the world will have to follow suite.
BOOMERS BLOG FOR AUGUST
New content added when available
Early baby boomers comfortable with retirement income — report
BY ROB KOZLOWSKI
Recent retirees and those about to retire are relatively comfortable and confident in their retirement income, said a survey conducted by Brightwork Partners for T. Rowe Price Group.
The survey was conducted to mark the first retirements of the oldest baby boomers, who turned 65 in 2011, said Anne Coveney, senior manager of thought leadership at T. Rowe Price Group, who led the study for the firm.
These baby boomers also represent the first generation reaching retirement that relies significantly on defined contribution plans for their retirement income.
Among the most notable results is that recent retirees are living relatively comfortably on an average 66% of pre-retirement income, less than the 75% to 85% financial planning standard, Ms. Coveney said in a telephone interview.
“The real finding is they're the people making it work,” she said. “They're already adjusting and they're already flexible early in retirement.”
“I think it's positive because they're adjusting early in retirement,” she added.
The largest amount of income for the retirees comes from Social Security, which accounts for 43% of income, followed by defined benefit plans at 19%, individual retirement accounts at 11%, earnings from current employment or self-employment at 8% and DC plans at 7%. Seven other sources of income make up the remaining 12%.
Among the retiree population, 89% said they are very or somewhat satisfied with their retirement.
Among the workers nearing retirement, there is slightly more pessimism regarding their future retirement, along with less of a sense of job security. Twenty-nine percent of those respondents say they are somewhat or very concerned they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months.
“That seemed pretty high to me,” Ms. Coveney said, “so for the over-50 workers, job security is a question mark and then 43% this year have considered delaying their retirement.”
Brightwork surveyed 1,507 adults who have retired in the past one to five years who have a 401(k) plan account balance or rollover IRA, and 1,030 working adults age 50 and over, who are contributing to a 401(k) plan. Interviews were conducted from Feb. 19 to March 3.
T. Rowe Price has made the survey presentation available online.
— Contact Rob Kozlowski at email@example.com | @Kozlowski_PI
The economy's booming, but boomers are going bust
By Mac & Gaydos
Baby boomers are becoming sandwiches.
Allow me to explain.
On the whole, boomers married later in life and had children even later. As a result, "they find themselves taking care of their ailing parents at the same time many are still taking care of their children," the USA Today reported. Since they are being financially pressed from both sides, the baby boomer generation has also earned the nickname the "sandwich generation."
On average, the baby boomers are pushing back their retirement age, with 50 percent saying in a recent survey that they don't expect to retire at 65. Nearly half of those people say they don't even think retiring at 70 will happen, either. Fidelity Investments also claims that the average baby boomer has a total of $81,000 of retirement funds.
With approximately 42 percent of 18-to 29-year-olds "getting some kind of financial help from their parents," the financial positions of baby boomers looks bleak.
Baby Boomer vs. Millennial generations
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -
We've all heard about the generation gap between Baby Boomer parents and their twenty-something Millennial children. Now there's a new poll by the Reason Foundation that found that gap might not be as wide as some might think, especially when it comes to money.
The Reason Foundation poll concluded that there are some areas where Boomers and Millennials are likely to disagree, such as economic and social issues.
Pollsters found the majority of the 2,700 Millennials they interviewed view themselves as politically independent, and conscious of local issues. The thought trend is "act locally, think globally," and educators are taking notice.
There are some inter-generational tensions around getting good paying jobs. Some Millenials feel that the Boomers just won't get out of the way so they have a chance.
When it comes to their work ethic, the pollsters say complaints about Millennials wanting a handout are a myth.
Is our slow recovery because of retiring baby boomers.
Robert D. Oberst
It has been nearly seven years since the start of the Great Recession, yet our economic engine continues to sputter, generating less than 1 percent growth in gross domestic product over that period -- the worst since the Great Depression.
Despite unprecedented efforts by the Federal Reserve, growth in the first quarter fell by 2.9 percent, and in each of the previous five years, we registered a quarter of near-zero growth, raising repeated fears of sliding back into a recession. Unemployment improved to 6.1 percent in June, but after nearly every other recession, we saw unemployment below 6 percent three years earlier.
Is our meager performance merely due to the financial crisis or is there an underlying current that caused the aftermath of this recession to be so long and deep?
Could it be because the baby boomers are retiring in unprecedented numbers, withdrawing their record level of economic stimulus from our consumer-spending-addicted economy? With over 75 million members, the boomers are, after all, the largest generation in U.S. history.
An in-depth model shows that generational economic stimulus (GES) peaks when a generation is in their 40s and 50s. The boomers' GES peaked from 1983 through 2007, stimulating a 25-year expansion -- the longest in U.S. history.
With an average retirement age of 62, GES declines precipitously during our 60s, which, for the boomers, occurred around 2007, indicating the start of a severe contraction. Then the largest generation was retiring in increasing numbers, setting the stage for the Great Recession. They were downsizing, buying fewer goods, cars and, most notably, fewer homes. As they aged, their fund balances and pension funds naturally shifted from stocks to bonds, creating a huge demand for low-risk investments.
The financial industry -- seeking products to fill the demand -- manufactured mortgage-backed securities. Escalating home prices insured the value of these over-rated assets; but, as the boomers downsized, the housing bubble burst, leading to the Great Recession.
Unlike recessions that last only a few years, these longer-term generational contractions tend to last over a decade, which is why we will continue to experience such sluggish financial conditions.
When the boomers were in their peak financially, we had the longest expansion, and when they exited this peak, we had a severe contraction.
Are there other instances when a peak generation's retirement led to a long-term contraction? It turns out that this scenario has played out four times over the last 140 years, once for each peak generation, thereby supporting this theory.
In the 20th century, in addition to the boomers, there was the Greatest Generation born at the start of the century. Their GES peaked in the 1950s to 1960s and declined in the 1970s, when we had four recessions and unemployment up to 11.2 percent.
There were two parallel peak generations in the 1800s: the Greatest Generation that fought the Civil War and the Civil War boomers immediately following that war.
The Civil War Greatests generated 9.4 percent growth in the 1870s to 1880s as the United States became the dominant economic power. When they retired in the early 1900s, growth slowed to a quarter of the previous level. The post-Civil War boomers, like the post-WWII boomers, increased the population by nearly 50 percent. Their GES peaked during the roaring 1920s, then declined during the debilitating Great Depression
Unlike recessions that last only a few years, these longer-term generational contractions tend to last over a decade, which is why we will continue to experience such sluggish financial conditions.
The pattern we see emerging is one of expansions lasting 15 to 25 years with growth averaging 6.7 percent followed by contractions lasting 9 to 15 years and 1.5 percent growth. Events such as World War II and proactive leadership make a difference. The Great Recession might have been less severe without the perfect storm induced by the actions of the financial industry, consumers and government.
The analysis of GES predicts that the current contraction will likely last into the 2020s when the millennials' GES will finally counteract the boomer effect. Until then, the picture is not one of pure doom and gloom, but rather the type of sluggish growth we have experienced thus far with specific periods of heightened risk for recessions and asset collapses, which can be mitigated through awareness of GES' implications and strategic leadership, sadly lacking up until now.
Robert D. Oberst is a human resources and financial consultant in Cleveland who authored "The Financial Time Machine, Predicting Our Economic Future," where he developed the model and theory explored in this article
Boomers stand to benefit most from medical marijuana
Mary Wozniak, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Baby boomers are the group that stands to benefit most from medical marijuana, and their numbers may be key to whether Amendment 2 passes or fails, activists say.
In addition, industry experts say boomers 50 and older will likely drive growth of medical marijuana revenue.
The latest poll released Monday by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University shows an average 88 percent of Floridians are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Election Day is Nov. 4
"The reason they (Floridians) are overwhelmingly in favor is that disease and injury do not pick political affiliation or age," said Orlando attorney John Morgan, chairman of People United for Medical Marijuana. The group runs the pro-Amendment 2 United for Care Campaign.
"Cancer and ALS strike at random," he said
Medical marijuana is much safer painkiller.
University researcher Peter Brown believes whether or not boomers would put Amendment 2 over the top is a non-issue, since support was so high among all demographic groups. Seniors 65 and older are 83 percent in favor. Those 50 to 64 are 86 percent in favor. The group most in favor is 18-29, with 95 percent yes.
"The point is, everybody's for it," Brown said. "Older voters are just a little less for it than everybody else."
But boomers are a major voting block in Florida, with about 7 million older than 50, or nearly 37 percent of the 19 million-plus population, according to the federal Administration on Aging. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 32.5 percent of Florida's population will be 60 and older by 2030, an increase of 34 percent from 2012.
Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — also are considered the age group more likely to vote in midterm elections.
Medical pot could bring windfall in sales tax revenue
"Baby boomers are key because they have lived life and understand," Morgan said. "They are key because they know it works, don't believe in scare tactics from a small handful of sheriffs and have been around it. They are having discussions with their parents and helping them with this discussion."
Morgan is referring to the Florida Sheriffs Association, which is against Amendment 2. The association leads the Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition, which has more than 100 partners and organizations that represent medical, drug abuse and law enforcement interests across the state. The coalition argues that no parental consent is required for a minor's access; "caregivers" are not required to have background checks or training; and storefront dispensaries are the equivalent of pill mills.
The United for Care campaign disputes the claims.
Florida schools and businesses go to pot
Morgan became a proponent of medical marijuana after he saw how the plant alleviated pain and suffering of his father, who died of cancer, and brother, a quadriplegic. He contributed about $4 million of his own money to the campaign.
"You have some 70-plus folks who will need it most," Morgan said. "The most common use for medical mj will be at the end of life, where narcotics fail and morphine is next."
Robert Platshorn, founder of The Silver Tour, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate seniors on benefits of medical marijuana, agrees boomers are key.
"Seniors will make or break Amendment 2 in Florida. They are the most powerful voting block in the state and ... they vote," he said. "I will be working overtime to make sure they have a good reason to vote yes." He plans to start a statewide radio campaign next week.
Platshorn knows all about the illegal marijuana industry. He ran the Black Tunas marijuana smuggling gang in the 1970s. He was arrested in 1979 and served 30 years in prison, the longest stretch for a nonviolent marijuana offender in the U.S. He was paroled in 2008.
Morgan says big money lined up for pot campaign
Platshorn said he formed The Silver Tour four years ago after he saw exit polls whenProposition 19 failed in California. If passed, the measure would have allowed people 21 and older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. It would have allowed local governments to regulate and tax commercial pot production and sales. He realized the senior vote had defeated it.
"I was surprised because that's my generation," he said. "We invented pot in the modern sense. Beatniks, hippies, Woodstock. Additionally, I learned that in a bi-election, it's mostly seniors that vote. I also learned that no one was speaking to seniors. No organization and few individuals."
Rabbi Bruce Diamond, 66, of Fort Myers, favors marijuana for medical use, but prefers it be from several low-THC strains, such as Charlotte's Web.
He occasionally used marijuana while in college and graduate school, "although it generally just put me to sleep, and that was pretty boring," Diamond said.
"My fellow boomers need to know that this is not grass we knew in college," he said. "I understand that the varieties they now sell are many times more potent than 'your daddy and mommy's weed."'
Poll finds huge support for medical marijuana
He worries about the studies that say newly engineered varieties can more easily create dependency and even induce psychotic episodes.
"I've been around 20-something-year-olds, and I know some people who were hospitalized for marijuana use," Diamond said. "I hope the medical marijuana industry plays straight with us and produces strains like Charlotte's Web that are high in pain and seizure reducing properties and able to help chemo patients' appetites, but really low in THC that can mess you up."
Terri Benincasa, who has a radio show called Boomer Nation (on summer hiatus) with 200,000 listeners in west and central Florida and 50,000 out of state, wishes she could have procured marijuana to help her 91-year-old mother during her illness.
"She understood the tremendous benefit of it ... instead she died in great pain and with overwhelming nausea." Benincasa said.
She said it's absurd medicines far more harmful and addictive than marijuana are lawful. She also believes marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. "I never liked it myself ... I prefer another legalized drug, alcohol, but see it as on par with alcohol, if not less harmful."
On the industry side, Evan Nison, director of Southeast operations for Terra Tech, based in California, says boomers are responsible for the upswing in support for marijuana law reform nationwide. The company, traded publicly, grows medical marijuana and has a dispensary, along with Edible Garden, a hydroponic produce company. He's looking for businesses and growers in Florida to partner with.
"In states like Florida, where there is a large aging population, medical cannabis is even more important," Nison said. "Many would like to use it as a safer alternative to commonly prescribed addicting and deadly medications. With so many potential patients in Florida, we're eager to be able to bring our experience and use our food-grade facilities to produce a safe and reliable medicine for them."
A May study issued by IBISWorld.com, which provides market research and reports for more than 700 industries, states demographic factors will play a role in driving medical marijuana industry growth — namely adults 50 and older.
"Although the success of the marijuana industry is ultimately beholden to the regulatory landscape, in states where medical marijuana use is legal, demographic trends are driving demand," said Dmitry Diment, an industry analyst for the company. "Older individuals are typically more likely to develop the chronic illnesses that require medical marijuana treatment."
The study says the medical marijuana stores industry is expected to grow 26.6 percent annually over the next five years to $8.4 billion.
BOOMERS BY THE NUMBERS
Baby Boomers are expected to drive the growth of the medical marijuana industry because of their growing numbers and greater incidence of ailments that can be treated with the drug.
• From 2014-2019, adults 50 and older are expected to grow 1.6 percent annually to 116.1 million. In comparison, total population is forecast to grow at an average of 0.8 percent over the same period.
• From 2014-2019, the rate of physician visits is expected to increase 2.2 percent annually to 1.3 billion. In the five years previously, visits went up 2.1 percent annually to 1.15 billion.
More Health News...
UAMC targets Baby Boomers for Hepatitis-C screening
By Greg Gurule.
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Baby Boomer generation born between 1945 and 1965 is the greatest at-risk group of the silent killer infection, Hepatitis-C according to the University of Arizona Medical Center. That group is five times more likely to have Hep-C, which over time can trigger serious health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Doctors say the disease has no symptoms, and most people who have it don't know that they are infected. Because of the risk of being a "carrier," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people in the Baby Boomer age group be screened for Hepatitis-C.
UAMC, at 1501 N. Campbell is offering free walk-in screenings for the disease on Fridays from 8 to 11 in the morning on the 6th floor of its facility. You can get more information on the clinic and Hepatitis-C by calling 520-621-HEPC (4372). The screening involves a blood sample taken through a simple finger prick that takes 20 minutes to complete.
Hepatitis-C can now be easily treated using a series of pills that have proven 95% effective.
Susan Oliver Green Girl Documentary DVD to Debut at Vegas Star Trek Convention
Las Vegas, CA (PRWEB)
Baby Boomers will remember Susan Oliver as one of the most important female guest stars on nearly every major television show from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. She also gained worldwide fame for her extremely popular role as Anne Howard on Peyton Place, TVs first prime time soap opera.
But Susan Oliver will always be most often remembered as Star Treks original Orion Green Girl, part of her role as Vina in the series original 1964 pilot (which eventually became the 1966 two-part episode The Menagerie). The 2014 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention will be celebrating the sci-fi franchises 50th anniversary, putting special focus on Susan Olivers original 1964 pilot.
Green Girl Director George Pappy felt that the convention was the perfect place to launch the DVD release. Pappy states, Its always bothered me how often Susan Oliver was (and continues to be) overlooked by the industry to which she gave so much of her life. I felt it was time for someone to finally acknowledge her amazing life and many accomplishments. As Ive made this film, its been very heartening to find out just how many others feel exactly the same way about her. And of that group, there are no more dedicated or adoring fans in the world than those who gather in Las Vegas each year to celebrate all things Star Trek.
The Green Girl documentary uses Susan Olivers iconic Star Trek performance as the jump-off point for an in-depth look at the sadly short but remarkably full life of an actress who many critics believe should have been one of her eras biggest movie stars. In addition to chronicling her remarkably prolific acting career, the film delves into the less well-known aspects of this atypical Hollywood starlets life.
Breaking a 7-year Warner Brothers contract so she could perform on Broadway (and almost certainly invoking the permanent wrath of Jack Warner in the process), Susan Oliver eventually set her sights beyond acting, becoming one of the original members of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and going on to direct episodes of M*A*S*H and other major TV shows as she fought Hollywoods overtly sexist men only production culture in the 1970's and 1980's.
The film also delves into Susan Olivers record-setting flying adventures, including her daring 1967 Trans-Atlantic solo flight in a single engine light plane, her victory in the 1970 Powder Puff Derby cross-country air race, and her eventual certification as one of the first women ever trained to fly the Lear Jet.
The Green Girl documentary includes 40 interviews with Ms. Olivers friends and contemporaries, including Lee Meriwether, David Hedison, Roy Thinnes, Kathleen Nolan, Nancy Malone, Gary Conway, Monte Markham, Celeste Yarnall, Peter Mark Richman and former NFL legend Rosey Grier, as well as noted Star Trek expert Larry Nemecek and other film and television historians.
The Green Girl DVD goes on sale Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention and also online via the movies聽website. The film will also screen on July 31, 2014 near the Vegas Star Trek Convention at the聽Brenden Theatres/IMAX, part of a nation-wide theatrical release sponsored by聽Gathr庐 Films.
Green Girl Productions is an independent film production company based in Los Angeles.
VIDEO: Sneak Peek at John Leguizamo, Billy Joel, Kim Cattrall and More in PBS's AMERICAN MASTERS: THE BOOMER LIST
From the time of its birth, the baby boomer generation (1946-1964) has significantly and uniquely changed our world. 2014 marks an important shift in American culture, as the last boomers turn 50. American Masters: The Boomer List, premiering nationwide Tuesday, September 23, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), tells the story of this influential generation through the lives of 19 iconic boomers-one born each year of the baby boom-including New Age guru Deepak Chopra (b. 1947), singer-songwriter Billy Joel (b. 1949), fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger (b. 1951), author Amy Tan (b. 1952), actor Kim Cattrall (b. 1956), environmentalist Erin Brockovich (b. 1960) and artist David LaChapelle (b. 1963). Click below for a sneak preview of the documentary!
Intimate interviews by filmmaker/photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (The Black List,The Latino List, The Out List) focus on these individuals' exceptional achievements, struggles and identities, sharing the experiences of these extraordinary Americans and the history they lived through and often created. Subjects illuminate the key movements and changes that shaped the world during the baby boom years, discussing the environment; arts and entertainment; science; civil, LGBT and women's rights; law; politics; public service; sports; the military; technology and media.
"When I learned about this year's boomer milestone, I came up with the idea for The Boomer List," says Greenfield-Sanders, whose past films include About Face: Supermodels Then and Now andAmerican Masters -Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart. "The film captures the boomer generation's dynamic spirit through 19 distinct 'American Masters' who had a profound effect on our world."
"The Boomer List is a celebration of this generation's impact on American culture. It is impossible to encapsulate in just a few words, but thanks to the talent both on camera and behind the lens, this remarkable film offers an incredible chorus of voices that somehow captures the zeitgeist of this era," says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
A DVD will be released via Perfect Day Films, and Greenfield-Sanders' 19 large-scale master portraits of the film's subjects will be featured in a companion coffee table book (Luxury Press), both available October 1. His portraits will also be part of an exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders" opens September 26, 2014, and will be on display through June 30, 2015.
Launched in 1986 by series creator Susan Lacy, American Masters has earned 26 Emmy Awards -- including nine for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special -- 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 28th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York's public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For more than 50 years, THIRTEEN has been a partner with the tri-state community, using its rich resources to inform and inspire the passionate people of New York and the world to better understand and address the issues that challenge our diverse communities.
The Boomer List is a Perfect Day Films production. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders is director. Music by Neal Evans. Charlie Watt Smith is editor. Graham Willoughby is director of photography. Betsy Berg, Ingrid Duran, Catherine Pino and Michael Slap Sloane are executive producers. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Tommy Walker and Chad Thompson are producers. For American Masters: Junko Tsunashima is supervising producer, Julie Sacks is series producer and Susan Lacy and Michael Kantor are executive producers
The Best is Yet to Come for Baby Boomers and Seniors
Jeff Banashak,/ email@example.com
MOBILE, Ala., July 30, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- According to the Administration on Aging, U.S. senior citizens numbered more than 39 million in 2009. They represented almost 13% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, it is estimated there will be 72 million seniors, about one in every five citizens. Not only are there more seniors than ever, they are also living much longer. With an aging population also comes new challenges for families, for society, and for seniors themselves.
In the previous generation, most retirees didn't live much beyond their retirement date. Now it's not uncommon for folks to live twenty years beyond retirement age. But what will this new generation of septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians do with all their free time, and how will they cope with the challenges of being older? Author Bee Oldfield thinks she has some answers for this demographic in her new book, Brace Yourself!--after all she's 93! In a folksy manner, Bee shares practical tips to prepare others for a time of life like no other. She's living proof that seniors can adapt and function quite well and retain their sense of humor and dignity.
Many, if not most, people in their later years withdraw within themselves, feeling that they must match the mental image most people have of an "old lady" or an "old man," so they stop looking or acting like their best selves. Bee encourages these folks to dress colorfully, to fix their faces or hair, and do the things younger people might otherwise be too busy to enjoy.
Bee shares, "Being really old isn't easy, so my book mentions specific ways that we can make the best possible use of whatever resources are available." She suggests, for example, simply slowing down to reduce the number of falls that might occur, or labeling storage containers so you can easily find what you are looking for--a simple step that will save time in the long run. Bee is also a fan of keeping pets. She says they help keep us young at heart. Bee encourages her fellow seniors to laugh, give of themselves, and hold on to their faith. Most of all, she shares her wit and wisdom to help seniors enjoy their golden years with grace and dignity.
Brace Yourself!, by Bee Oldfield, 128 pages, PB, $10.99, ISBN: 978-158169-484-0 Published by Evergreen Press (2014)
Winning Back The Boomers
Synagogues look for ways to stem the empty nest exodus.
Merri Rosenberg/Westchester Correspondent
Area clergy, executive directors of organizations and volunteers discuss the problem of empty nesters at JCC of Mid-Westchester.
Few in the non-Orthodox Jewish community deny the problem: an exodus of many empty nesters once their children have attained a significant Jewish milestone, whether it’s the bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation or Hebrew high school graduation.
And the departure of empty nesters, many of them baby boomers, presents a compelling challenge to synagogue leaders.
“Why do families whose children have had their Jewish life-cycle milestones choose to leave synagogue life?” asked Andi Rosenthal, planning executive with Synergy, the synagogue services department of UJA-Federation of New York. “What are the qualities needed to help them discover, and rediscover, synagogue life?”
Rosenthal was discussing the issue with clergy, executive directors and volunteers at the JCC of Mid-Westchester during a recent presentation of the initial findings of Synergy’s ongoing research project, “The Empty Nester Study.”
The first phase of the research, conducted by B3/ The Jewish Boomer Platform, revealed that synagogues can’t count on empty nesters to remain affiliated or engaged the way their parents did.
“Continuity is not simply a forward moving vehicle,” Rosenthal said in a follow-up interview. “We had the assumption that people would always be there for us. We need to address that cohort. The research shows that 54 percent of active outreach is not geared to the empty nesters, but to targeting young families.”
Adina Frydman, Synergy’s executive director, said that more research is needed. “The strongest drop-off point is in the post bar/bat mitzvah stage. This raises a whole host of questions. What is the perception out there? What’s in it for adults, beyond their children?”
For many empty nesters, a search for more spirituality and meaning in their personal practice of Judaism has led them to classes and courses beyond their home synagogues. Similarly, a non-spiritual search for meaning in their volunteer lives often takes them outside Jewish institutions, volunteering instead for alumni associations, cultural groups political organizations or other non-profits.
In the non-synagogue world, it’s often easier for volunteers to work on projects that interest them or are suited to their talents; boomers may feel that synagogues are not responsive to their desire to pursue meaningful work. In addition, these other organizations may be quicker to extend expressions of appreciation.
As David Elcott of B3 noted, “If they’re seeking meaning, or gratitude and appreciation, the Jewish community is not the best place to go.”
According to Elcott, 86 percent of baby boomers would prefer to volunteer through the Jewish community. But, he said, “Nearly two-thirds are prepared to go elsewhere for meaningful public service engagement.”
He noted another shift. Many baby boomers, instead of going to organizations looking to answer the question, “What can I do to serve?” now ask, “What can the Jewish community do to serve me?”
It doesn’t help that some synagogues respond by offering undifferentiated programming for the empty-nest set, without recognizing that baby boomers span an age range of 50 to 68, with different needs, desires and expectations.
Frydman noted that synagogues also face increasing competition with other “leisure activities” for empty nesters’ attention — and discretionary dollars — pointing out that if social networks aren’t in the synagogue, keeping empty nesters as members is often problematic.
She identified Temple Beth El, a Conservative congregation in New Rochelle, as a positive role model. For many years, the synagogue has had a program that connects families, whose children are classmates, with frequent Shabbat dinners in people’s homes, which has helped establish strong social bonds that keep those families engaged with the congregation even after the bar/bat mitzvah milestone has occurred.
Although currently there are more questions than answers, Synergy officials hope to release a set of strategies for congregations to try by next winter.
But for several of the synagogue professionals in attendance, simply focusing on these issues and launching a process to address them is a good start.
“The research reflects our concerns,” said Barbara Merson, executive director of Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners. “We would like to spend more time thinking about this question.”
“The key thing tonight is that we want you to leave with clarity of the questions to ask,” said Stuart Himmelfarb of B3. He urged synagogue leaders to rethink their approach to membership and involvement. Some possibilities could include ways to help empty nesters and baby boomers view synagogues more as a “tapas,” or small plate model, than a set menu of offerings, according to Himmelfarb, who is president of The Jewish Week’s board of directors.
Perhaps the dues structure could be changed, or volunteer opportunities could be tailored to a desire for shorter time commitments, and incorporate more meaningful activities.
Baby boomers are less willing than their parents to spend a decade or more moving up the typical synagogue organizational food chain, from serving on a committee or chairing a particular program, to ultimately becoming a trustee or board officer.
“Synagogues can learn from Hillel,” said Elcott. “They understand episodic engagement. They don’t expect people to show up all the time.” Similarly, when people leave synagogues, he said, it’s not helpful to perceive that as “treason.”
“Fidelity,” he said, “may not mean the same thing to them.”
As attrition rates continue to rise, the process to understand, and engage, Jewish empty nesters and baby boomers, continues.
As Frydman said, “We’re learning as we’re going.”
Robert O'Dell, on Handling Baby Boomers, Gen X Clients
Voices is an occasional column that allows wealth managers to address issues of interest to the advisory community. Robert O'Dell is the co-founder of Wheaton Wealth Partners, which has offices in Wheaton, Ill. and Naples, Fla.
Over the next 25 years, trillions of dollars in wealth will be transferred from the traditional generation to baby boomers and Generation Xers. But these younger generations do business in a vastly different way.
For advisers, understanding these differences is crucial to the continuation of their businesses. As they receive wealth, many baby boomers and Gen Xers will also change advisers from the firm their mom and dad had.
The traditional generation refers to people born before 1945. The first "off-the-farm" generation, they are the most affluent generation in society today. They usually worked for one company and had a defined benefits plan. In retirement they came down to Florida and pretty much became disengaged in life.
Advisers often approach this generation by wining and dining them in suits and ties. Traditional generation clients trust the so-called experts and like to hear stories. If you put a big ad in the newspaper and they come to your seminar, they will likely do business with you.
The problem is when advisers try to use similar tactics with baby boomers and Gen Xers. By doing this, advisers run the risk of losing business by failing to connect with prospective clients.
Despite being optimistic workaholics, baby boomers aren't looking for a new best friend. Advisers should be respectful of their time. Create a schedule and stick to it.
Before asking for their business, advisers should show optimism and tell baby boomers their success stories. Don't overdo it, but let them know you're driven and successful like they are, and show them how you got to where you're at.
My business partner started with me 13 years ago, after going through a divorce. She is a single mom. Her story resonates with boomers.
A Gen X client asked me to sit in on a life insurance presentation with an insurance adviser who primarily sold to the traditional generation. The client wanted a presentation that highlighted the benefit/cost trade-off, but the salesman engaged in idle chat and actually filled out the application in front of them without confirming the purchase. Needless to say, my client did not sign the application.
Gen Xers are more cynical stalkers. They were the first generation to conduct online research of claims made by product and service providers. Gen Xers are the most mistrustful generation.
Advisers need to load up Gen X clients with tons of information. Ironically, although Gen Xers are the toughest client for an adviser to onboard, once they are clients they provide great referrals. In order to track Gen X clients, advisers need to have a solid web presence. This generation communicates mostly by email and text.
Many wealth advisory firms that built their businesses serving the traditional generation have not strategized about how to serve the inheriting generation in a way that will resonate with them. They are in jeopardy of a major market share decline.
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When does a senior citizen have to file a tax return? Not always...
Andre Malok the star ledger
Q. I am 85 and my income is less than $10,000 a year, not including Social Security. Do I have to file a state or federal tax return? Many of my fellow senior citizens file tax returns even though they pay no tax.
A. There are situations when you should file a federal or state return, or both, even though your earnings are under $10,000 a year.
The 2013 federal filing requirement for most single individuals over the age of 65 is gross income in excess of $11,500, said Laurie Wolfe, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. That number is expected to increase to $11,700 in 2014, she said.
But as always with taxes, there are some exceptions.
Wolfe said you should first figure out your gross income by including all taxable income. Do not include losses reported on Schedule D or the expenses from a business reported on Schedule C or F, she said. Also, you would not include Social Security income unless half of your Social Security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000, she said.
"If that is the case there is a special formula that calculates how much of your Social Security benefit is taxable," she said. "In no case would the taxable amount exceed 85 percent of the total benefit."
Even if you’re below the threshold for required filing, you have some other things to consider.
"If you owe no tax but you had monies withheld from your income, or made estimated tax payments during the year, then you should file to get that money refunded to you," she said.
Another reason to file is if you received a Form 1099-B for the sale of stock or other holdings and the amount reported on that form, when added to your other gross income, exceeds the $11,500 threshold, Wolfe said.
"In this case, filing a return will allow you to declare your cost basis in the holding and may keep you from getting a notice from the IRS," she said.
Wolfe said there are other situations specifically listed by the IRS when you must file a return even if your gross income is below the threshold, such as if you owe any special taxes, including but not limited to the alternative minimum tax or the household employment tax, or if you received a distribution from a medical savings account or a health savings account. You’d also have to file if you had net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more, or you had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or related organization that is exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare taxes.
For New Jersey, Wolfe said the filing requirement for a single filer is $10,000 of gross income, or $20,000 if you are filing jointly.
Additionally, the state does not tax Social Security benefits, and there’s a pension exclusion for taxpayers over the age of 62 with income less than $100,000 that will keep many seniors under the filing threshold, she said.
Retirees Who Go Online are Less Depressed
By Abbey Smith
Depression in elders According to a recent study, American retirees who spend time on the Internet are less likely to develop depressions. The study compared senior citizens who go online and their peers who don’t know how to use the Internet.
Shelia Cotten, lead author of the study, said that the biggest factor that contributes to depression is living alone. She added that spending time online allows them to connect with others, feel less isolated, and not feel lonely. The study stated that eight percent of Americans 50 years old and older suffer from depression.
Cotten said that senior citizens are more probable to get depressed, experience social isolation, and feel loneliness compared to younger people. They wanted to determine whether getting retirees online will help reduce the risk.
The researchers analyzed polls collected over six years by the US Health and Retirement Survey that focused on the transitions Americans undergo when they retire. It involved data from around 3,000 retired men and women who were not living in nursing homes.
The researchers found signs of depression through the answers of the questionnaire. They respondents were also asked about their Internet use for email and other purposes. 30 percent of the participants said they go online. Researchers then compared the depression scores and discovered that people who were Internet users had a 33 percent lower risk of suffering from depression compared to people who were not going online.
The researchers didn't find out the effects of various Internet uses but previous studies suggested that retirees go online to communicate with their family and friends through email. Cotten said that older adults with heath and mobility problems can’t travel to visit their family. They use email to see photos of their grandchildren and their kids and to keep in touch with their family and friends.
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Social Security Extends Access to Benefit Verification
Multiple Options Available
Recently, the Social Security Administration announced that local Social Security offices would continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice. Providing services when and where the public needs them remains central to Social Security’s efforts, while continuing to encourage federal, state, and local agencies to take advantage of Social Security’s data exchange programs that can serve customers more efficiently and effectively.
“We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin stated. “I believe that government agencies can work closer together to assist our mutual customers.”
Over the last few years, Social Security has invested in technology that allows most government agencies and many other organizations to verify their clients’ Social Security benefits electronically without requiring them to visit a local Social Security office.
“We recognize that some members of the public may require in-person assistance and we will have a presence in local communities,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “We also want to ensure that the public is aware that they can access many of our services without making a trip to a local field office.”
Members of the public with Internet access can obtain benefit verification information by creating a my Social Security account at ...
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