Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baby Boom Hits the Big 5-0 Cher, David Letterman, Gregory Hines, Hillary and Millions of Others Are Dangerously Close to Being Solicited by the AARP

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baby Boom Hits the Big 5-0 Cher, David Letterman, Gregory Hines, Hillary and Millions of Others Are Dangerously Close to Being Solicited by the AARP

Article excerpt

ROD STEWART is pushing it.

Mick Jagger has hit it.

Paul McCartney is over it.

Fifty. The big 5-0.

Stewart, 49; Jagger, 50; and McCartney, 51, soon will have a lot of company at the mid-century milepost.

Millions of baby boomers - members of the most publicized generation in history - are creeping up on 50.

In just a couple of years, the first wave of a generation that once warned "Don't trust anyone over 30" will be eligible to join the American Association of Retired Persons.

Baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are now between 29 and 48 years old. In two years, about 3 million boomers will turn 50.

By the time the last boomer reaches 50 in 2014, there should be about 77 million boomers age 50 and over. "We're talking about massive numbers here," said Michael Maul, a 47-year-old public relations executive in Cincinnati.

"Traditionally, youth is king in this country, but the senior boomers are going to be powerful. There's going to be some head-butting, and it promises to be a very interesting conflict."

The boomers' background indicates they're likely to be feisty seniors.

"This is a generation that thinks it single-handedly stopped a war," said Dave Speights, editor of American Marketplace, a newsletter on demographics. "They don't mind telling others what is right and browbeating their opponents into submission.

"They're going to be a very opinionated, very powerful bunch of senior citizens, and it's somewhat of a scary thought," added Speights, 42. "They assume they know what's best for the world. They feel they can dictate the national agenda."

Born during the exuberant euphoria of the prosperous post-World War II era, the boomers saw their parents' standard of living improve - and they wanted even more of the good life for themselves.

They're likely to continue that way at 50 - and beyond.

"Boomers will change the perception of being old," says Xenia Montenegro, AARP manager of market research. "They're already reshaping the image of aging simply because there are so many of them and they're on the verge of becoming old themselves. But, to the boomers, the negative image of being old is beginning to fade."

"Retirement and old age really aren't the same thing anymore," notes Bob Atchley, 54, director of the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and former president of the American Society on Aging.

"A lot of people who turn 50 this decade really aren't going to reach old age for 30 years. Boomers are the biggest generation to reach middle age, and they're going to be the biggest to enter old age. They're probably going to change our definition of old age."

Although boomers will be eligible to join AARP at age 50, they certainly don't seem ready to "think old."

"We're not really anywhere close to that," says 47-year-old Al Tuchfarber, director of the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research. …

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