A decade ago, when in their mid-50s, the Boomers were
adamantly rebellious about their health. Live hard even if it means you die a
bit younger was their mantra. They were intent on ignoring their doctors’ instructions
to curtail their lifestyle, and rather chose to enjoy life to the max.
Asked to write a letter of confession to their GP in an
exercise, one woman aptly put it at as follows: “Dear doctor, I don’t tell you,
but I like to wash down my medication at night with a glass of scotch.”
They were rebels with a cause. And the cause was living life
to the fullest. They prided themselves for
ignoring health warnings and messages. Their retirement years, they were determined,
were about indulgence and celebration of freedom, no longer curtailed by
responsibilities and sensibilities. One woman put it perfectly when she said, “Take
the cholesterol tablets and then eat anything you like.”
Stands to reason they loved food innovations that offered
them all the gain of taste and texture but without any of the pain of
compromise. Logical margarine was a perfect example. It tasted like the real
thing but was perceived as “good for you”. And the Natural Confectionery
Company became synonymous with healthy, good for you sweets. Media reports
about the benefits of a daily glass of red wine were followed with delight and
the boomers were more than happy to comply.
We have just revisited the topic with our new study Boomer Leisure & Communication,
asking whether a decade on, now that they are retired or semi-retired and with
the kids being independent, their attitudes have changed at all.
It seems much has changed. Their bravado has disappeared.
They are no longer rebelling as they once did, instead sheepishly following
labels, advice and moderation. They still seek out and lap up products which
offer minimal compromise but have curtailed their diets to suit the reality of
their ageing bodies.
Several factors have led to this. Their bodily demise simply
cannot be ignored. Aches, pains and ailments manifest. And they treat these as
signs of things to come. They now recognise that while it is impossible to
reverse the process, they can and should slow it down as much as possible.
And they know a lot more than they did before. With obesity
sparking much debate on good nutrition and exercise they have heard the
messages and taken note. They know what to look for in-store and understand the
basics of goodies and baddies when it comes to nutrition. And they have
accepted the possibilities and potential of consuming additives and supplements
such as fish oil, which may help and, as they see it, certainly can’t harm.
More than anything the Boomers have become motivated by
mortality biting. Either they or someone in their circle has experienced a
serious health scare, or worse. They know it could happen to them anytime, and
they have too much still to do and experience. The bucket list is long.
As one woman said, “I’ve got to hang around for
a few more years yet. I’m not ready to fall off the perch. I’m going to get my
own back at the kids. I’m going to persecute them!”