January 25, 2012 Edition

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Racing with the boomers

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

As a baby boomer with retirement in my future I am reminded of that old video game "Lemmings," where thousands of small creatures begin a mad rush through a progressively difficult obstacle course, usually resulting in their quick demise. It is the job of the game player to guide them through the course and lead them safely to the exit.

I have a terrified feeling that as one of 75 million boomers approaching retirement I have joined the ranks of the lemmings, and I'm about to be plunged into a race that will send me over some unseen cliff.

I've thought a lot about the pros and cons of retirement. There are many things I've set aside to do someday when I have the time. So now the question is do I retire as early as possible to begin working on those things or do I keep working and hope that I live long enough to accomplish them once I make the leap into lemming world.

I read an article recently that cheerfully posed the question, "What is the life expectancy of a baby boomer?"

Apparently if you actually make it to age 65 your life expectancy improves from the mid 70s to the mid 80s. There were no statistics to back up this statement but it was made with a definite "so there" attitude. The article continued on to say if you actually make it to the 70-80s you get extra points and your life expectancy goes up a few more years. It's all about staying alive and, just like the lemmings, as long as you're on the right path you're less likely to plunge over the cliff.

So let's say I make it to age 65. What about quality of life? Am I going to enjoy being a lemming at 70? Will I still be able to get through the obstacle course or will I just end up a lemming failure statistic?

I have to say there are more and more of us boomers who are still creating a ruckus in the world. I am amazed by the creativity, energy and focus I see in others of my generation.

There are many avenues open to boomers that were not available in years past. We can go back to college, learn new skills, pursue new interests, or if we want, begin a whole new career.

As 65 looms in the not too distant future I feel that I should begin to make some kind of plan. Do I need a bucket list or just a packing list? If I retire do I fill in my extra eight to 10 hours a day with worthwhile projects, or do I nosedive into my chair and read all those books that are waiting for me? Do I write a book?

I don't know what the future has in store for me or when I will take the plunge into retirement, but when I do I hope I make it through the obstacle course and find the exit to get out of the race.

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