We came across this interesting piece from the United Kingdom … complete with the British way of spelling … about how our baby boomer generation is changing the nature of aging. It’s written by Anthony Edwards and Christopher Skillicorn of the communications agency Havas Worldwide. Are things really any different in the U.S.? We think not, because there are DRAGONs everywhere!
Baby Boomers are misbehaving. In generations past, licentious behaviour may have gone out of the window the minute you picked up your pension, but thanks to advances in health, passing age 60 can symbolise a new lease on life rather than a death knell -– especially if you have the cash to enjoy yourself.
Half of over-65s now enjoy good health, and with it, maintained libidos (helped on a bit by the menfolk in the form of a little azure pill). Havas Worldwide London has identified that this stage of life is the playground of the “DRAGON”: Divorced, Rich, Aged 65+, Overseas Traveller, and Networker.
The adage “You’re only as old as you feel” still holds true, but is increasingly supplemented with “You’re only as old as you look.” Private hospital group Spire Healthcare announced that over the last five years, there’s been a massive surge in silver citizens seeking the surgeon’s scalpel; overall rates of cosmetic surgery have risen 78% in that time period. For over-60s, the rise has been 303% for women and 168% for men.
According to Brent Tanner, a consultant cosmetic surgeon at Spire Tunbridge Wells Hospital, the demand for facial surgery amongst the older community is coming from a new set of variables. These people are “fit ladies who believe their face does not fit the age that they feel; a child’s wedding is coming up and the mother wants to look her best; and from grandparents who are self-conscious when their young grandchildren start playing with their wobbly loose necks.”
The need to look good and satisfy one’s carnal urges is also fuelled by (and the cause of) rising divorce rates amongst the 60-plus. This is the only demographic group in the UK where separation is on the increase, and they have been duly dubbed the “silver separators.” Figures show that more than 13,700 over-60s divorced in 2009, up 4% in two years. This contrasts with all age groups, where rates fell 11%. The rate rose even more in 2010 to 14,600 over-60s in England and Wales.
Since freedom from responsibility can now begin at 65 without any decline in the quality of life, people are more likely to leave a marriage if they feel it’s stifling them. There is less social stigma towards divorce than in their parents’ generation, and after a lifetime in the workforce — especially for women, who increasingly entered from the 1970s — they are better able to afford divorce. There are even celebrity role models for later-life divorce: most recently, Charles Saatchi (who is 70, his ex-wife Nigella a spring (boomer) chicken at 53); but also Al and Tipper Gore; Roy and Patricia Disney; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver; Diana Quick and Bill Nighy.
This is a trend evident on both sides of the Atlantic, which an article in the New York Times noted in 2011 that “numbers have been rising for years now, and experts say the trend seems likely to accelerate as baby boomers begin to pass age 65… Some people are living longer and remaining healthier, and want their physiques to align with their psyches. Some are preening for potential mates and want their feathers to look their freshest. Some are still working or looking for jobs and want to be seen asmore youthful contenders.” The common denominator for all these is that older people are remaining active, and want to look good doing so.
This isn’t just social activity; it’s physical activity as well. According to insurance brokers Perkins Slade, extreme sports are on the rise amongst the 65+ crowd: “Nearly a fifth of all injury claims from sports such as diving, mountaineering and skiing in 2009 were made by Britons aged 70 or over. This compares to just 5% in 2006. The reality is that 70 is the new 50 – we are much fitter and aware of opportunities to take advantage of these sports.”
This active lifestyle is carried over to travel, with the DRAGONs cohort over-indexing compared to the general population; a 2012 Travel supermarket survey found that 21% of Brits in their 70s were planning three holidays in the next year-– rising to 33% among single, part-time employed retirees, which is more than twice the 15% average across all age groups. September is particularly popular, with of a quarter of retired singles.
Cruises are up about 7% year-on-year, but the big leap for retired singles is in city breaks -– not having to travel too far, but being able to experience a change in culture nonetheless. A whopping 47% said they’d holiday in that way in 2012, compared to 36% in 2011 -– and this is set against a backdrop of a 28% overall drop in city breaks.
DRAGONs are on the move, on the go, and on the pull. This can mean a lot to the travel industry, from considering them for thrill-seeker packages, to setting up singles’ city breaks, to even the possibility of medical tourism -– combining a love for travel with a country where private cosmetic surgery is cheaper.