Thriving Boomers

In Brief: While not true of everyone in this segment, they are more likely to be in their 60s and living with a partner.

While they may have children, they are likely to have left home giving these people time and space. They’re likely to be retired and, as they have paid off their mortgage, they have more disposable income which they can spend on holidays and social and cultural activities. They have a strong network of family and friends and people they feel they can rely on – all of which contribute to high levels of wellbeing.


The chart below indicates how the Thriving Boomers segment perform on a number of key measures that influence wellbeing in later life like health, finances and social connections. While precise figures are shown on the chart, to help you make sense of it at a glance, the greater the area that is shaded in, the better their score. The chart highlights two scores for each measure – those experienced by the segment, and the average for those aged 50 and above as a whole – hover over the axis points on the chart to find out more.

We spoke to a number of Thriving Boomers as part of this research. This is Simon's story to illustrate how the Thriving Boomers experience later life.

Health

Those in this segment are more likely than average to be in good health – nine in ten rate their health as at least good. They make efforts to maintain this as well – they’re more likely to exercise while the qualitative interviews highlighted that they also pay attention to what they eat.

Simon, 69, is in good general health and does not have any serious or long term health conditions.

He keeps himself active by going jogging every evening. He has always enjoyed sport and exercise, and this is something that he does as part of his daily routine, rather than as a conscious effort to improve his health.

He also eats well. His wife does most of the cooking in their household and makes sure their meals are balanced, including ingredients like white meat, fish and lots of salads.

Simon also goes for regular checkups at the doctor. His three brothers have died from prostate cancer so he is keen to keep this in check.

"If you are healthy you can really do a lot… you can plan everything else."

Social connections

This group have strong social connections, providing them with a support network of people; almost all (99%) say they have someone they can rely on if they have a serious problem. They enjoy the time they spend with their family and friends – participating in the arts for instances – which contributes to their high wellbeing scores.

Participants were asked to complete a diary over the course of a week which rated how they felt about their life on a scale of one to ten (with one being the worst possible life and ten being the best).

In conjunction with this they also made notes about what they were doing on each particular day. The diaries from the thriving boomer segment highlight their strong social connections and the range of activities they participated in – and how this benefited their wellbeing.

Click on the days below to find out what they were doing, and how they felt.

Diary notes

"Not up to my best today - Sister in law has been brought back home - She was in hospital had an appendectomy operation."

"Very pleased, son called in for consultation on his work problems. Gave advice after inspecting his concerns, he is a plumber, I am a retired construction project engineer. Was glad to help and advise."

"Looking forward to meeting Rotary Club friends was a variation on everyday routine. Decisions made to help raise funds for charities- improving living conditions for the marginalised."

"Choir practice for our Christmas concert progressing nicely. Shopping for extended family abroad also progressing well- Flying away from these shores on 2nd Oct for one month."

"Shopping for holiday trip getting too much- went to get and pay for an international driving permit."

"Highlight of the day was to attend a surprise 25th wedding anniversary for our church minister and his wife. They were happy and so were we."

"Went to church to top up spiritual countenance. Spent time with sister in law and the evening with immediate family at home."

Simon’s family are the centre of his life. He is close to both his children – his son lives nearby with his own family, while his daughter and granddaughter have temporarily moved back in with Simon and his wife, after the daughter was widowed. He also maintains strong ties with extended family including a sister-in-law and a niece who he sees frequently.

Simon places a lot of value on keeping his family close and connected with each other. Whenever there is an occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, the whole family will gather to celebrate together.

Simon considers himself to be a sociable person and has a strong network of friends, some of whom he has known since he was student. Others he has met over the years through work and his various social activities.

Simon takes great pride in the active role he plays in bringing up his granddaughter who lives with him – taking her to and from school, and spending time with her. He credits the purpose that this role has given him with helping him to make the transition from paid work into retirement.

Simon feels well respected by all his family and enjoys being able to give advice and pass on his knowledge. For instance his son who is a plumber will come to him for technical advice, as Simon’s former career has provided him with relevant understanding. Simon really values feeling helpful and needed - this also gives him a sense of purpose.

Simon’s Christian faith is a key part of his identity and has helped to mould the way he has brought up his family, and the way he interacts socially with others. He considers it a duty to always look for avenues to improve oneself – for him this includes making friends and learning from others, as well helping other people through charitable activities. Simon has been a core member of his local Rotary club since it’s inception ten years ago.

He is also a member of his church choir. Singing is a hobby he enjoys for himself and is also an opportunity to socialise with friends. With the choir he puts on three concerts a year, and is proud of the money that these performances raise for charity.

Although Simon has lived in the UK all his adult life, he is originally from Malawi and his wife is from Zimbabwe. They have strong ties with their families and friends in both these countries and maintaining them is of utmost importance to them. They tend to visit these countries every year, sometimes staying for a couple of months.

They have a second home in Malawi, and another in Zimbabwe. These are taken care of by friends and family. Ideally Simon would like to split his time evenly, with six months in London and six months in Africa. He feels this especially now as he and his siblings who live out there are all getting older, so he’d like to spend as much time with them as possible.

"My family are my pillar… they pep me up."

Finances

This segment are more likely than average to be in a good financial position; nine in ten (91%) rarely or never run out of money.

Simon is a retired engineer. He has been careful to manage his finances and started putting aside extra savings about 10 years before he stopped working.

Simon owns his home outright, as well as some additional property in Malawi and Zimbabwe. His main regular outgoings are his utility bills and his car. He takes annual trips to Africa to visit family, and sometimes he and his wife will go on other holidays too. He does not worry too much about money as he has enough for his needs and has some put aside in case of emergency.

Simon still occasionally does some ad hoc contract work, and has not ruled out doing more in the future. However his main focus right now is on his family and in particular his grandchildren.

Accommodation

Most in this segment own their own home meaning that, along with their secure financial position, they also have assets that they can fall back on. Compared to the average they are less likely to have problems with their accommodation, and they tend to have lots of amenities that they can easily access. What’s more, nearly all feel that they are in control over what happens in most situations at home.

Simon’s home is well kept and furnished with pictures of his family and artwork from his frequent trips back to Africa – reminders of the things that are important to him.

His home and his surroundings are familiar to him and he feels part of the local community. This comfort and familiarity is something that he values. Indeed, he finds it strange that so many people decide to move home when they are getting older or retiring. For him this is already a time of transition and getting used to a new pattern of life, so adding a move on top of this is something he believes would be very stressful.

"This is the time when family can say I’ve got my granddad – my granddad taught me this…"

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The Centre for Ageing Better received £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund in January 2015 in the form of an endowment to enable it to identify what works in the ageing sector by bridging the gap between research, evidence and practice.