It’s been said that our nation is about to experience the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world, and it’s not hard to see why.
Compounding the problem, it’s estimated that more than 30 million boomers will be managing more than one chronic health condition by 2030.
As concerns around post-retirement costs mount, boomers are recognizing that their employer-sponsored retiree benefits will not adequately cover their future health care needs.
Benefits managers, retirement advisors and employers alike are struggling to find ways to help baby boomers face this new reality, while making the most of their golden years. To guide baby boomers toward a better plan for retirement and long-term wellness, it’s important to debunk some common misconceptions:
Misconception 1: Scare tactics will drive action
Despite the bleak financial outlook, boomers have collectively maintained the optimistic, idealistic spirit that defines their generation.
They grew up fighting to be the change they wished to see in the world. As a result, these eternal optimists are not motivated by “doom and gloom” messages around aging, finances and health.
Rather, they are drawn to aspirational ideas of this next chapter, for they view retirement as the time to reinvent themselves and experience life in new and exciting ways.
An example of this in action is AARP’s “Disrupt Aging” campaign. It ditches the lonely porch swing and microwave dinner-for-one clichés of the past and approaches retirement in a new, refreshing way that resonates with Boomers eager to live a life of possibility, connection and growth after 50.
Misconception 2: Gray hair and technology don’t mix
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take the ride-sharing app Uber, for example. Industry experts estimate that nearly 40 percent of riders are over the age of 50.
And guess who purchases more than 40 percent of Apple products?
This motivation to try new things and experiences is also evident when it comes to health technology. Consider that boomers are 98 percent more likely to visit health websites than the average Internet user.
And since more than 44 percent of boomers download apps at least once a month, they’re also regularly accessing health and wellness information on their mobile devices. They’re also increasingly open to technological advancements such as digital record keeping, telemedicine and remote diagnostics, remote/automated monitoring, chip implants and home-installed sensors.
Boomers are embracing technology that can make their lives better—but they want it on their own terms. That means health and wellness devices, apps and services must be reimagined with boomers in mind.
Misconception 3: Change aversion comes with age
Many boomers have witnessed their parents age, decline and pass away, and have firmly resolved to do things differently than the generation before them.
Boomers want to remain active, live independently as long as possible and fully enjoy their retirement years—or in many cases, decades. They recognize the need for change, and are committing to live healthier lifestyles and take a more active role in their health and wellness options.
In turn, health plans must encourage and reward this engagement and proactivity, while providing helpful educational tools and ongoing guidance to prepare boomers for retirement. With the proper support through this time of great transition, boomers will learn, adapt and thrive.
Baby boomers may be the wealthiest generation, but they are also the least prepared for retirement.
Baby boomers are redefining what retirement and long-term health means and how they are connected. If their employer offers a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), boomers should use health care spending accounts (HSAs) as another tool to help plan for retirement.
Employers are turning to defined-contribution health plans and rounding out the new retirement planning mix with HSAs to offer more flexible ways to ease the rising financial burden of health care in retirement.
However, boomers must quickly learn how to navigate new programs like HSAs as finance, health care and technology continue to converge, so health care initiatives must provide long-term engagement and an integrated experience to be effective.
Current financial, health care and technology systems and industries must evolve to meet the needs of baby boomers, but true progress will only be realized if these changes are grounded in optimism, compassion and engagement.