Are you a Boomer or a Senior?
Boomers have always seen themselves as a unique group, we try to defy labels that define us by age or by any other term. The early boomers have reached 70 years and we see the it as the new 50. A friend of mine said that his doctor told him that a 70-year-old today is healthier than a 50-year-old was 20 years ago. I tend to believe him. We are living longer, and we are healthier and cannot see ourselves as seniors. So to attract the boomers to become volunteers or members many seniors’ organizations are changing their name and their approach to engaging my generation. This is a good thing as we need to keep active and involved to bring about change. The flight is always interesting, the landing can be a bit scary.
I was giving a workshop to the SOB (Some Old Boys Club) on Licencing Issues for Seniors and I was talking to one of the members before the workshop. We had been talking about retirement and I had said, I was so busy that I had been forced to start keeping a schedule.
I don’t do volunteer work, because of the commitment of time. Now it is not the time commitment but the regular commitment of time. I worked all my life, and I have been retired for 25 years and I value my time. I don’t like the idea of having to commit on a regular basis to one activity, not even golfing with my friends.
He then talked about how he respected those who volunteered but that because he did not like to be tied down he would not volunteer. He also said that his wife had decided to volunteer at the local hospital but when she went to the orientation meeting and talked to the staff, she quickly realized that she too, did not want to be tied to a specific schedule. The hospital did not offer any flexible options, so she is not volunteering.
The idea of not volunteering because of time commitment is one I have heard before and one that is a legitimate concern of many seniors. We have worked for over 30 years tied to time schedules and time commitments controlled by others; in retirement we are now in control of our own time and we value our time, and we are suspicious of giving up our use of our time to others.
If you ask people who are not retired, what freedom from work, usually means, if you drill deeper, they will tell you it is the freedom to do what they want, when they want. So if people want seniors to volunteer they need to take a flexible approach to scheduling, if they cannot then they will lose many potential volunteers.
My volunteer activities with COSCO Health and Wellness Institute, give me the freedom to choose when I volunteer, it is very flexible, a fact I enjoy.
The other issue that many organizations that work with seniors are faced with is the name senior. I do not think of myself as a senior, I prefer the term Sonic Boomer, many of my friends call themselves Boomers. At a recent conference I was at, a number of organizations said they were considering removing the term senior from their name.