“Hope I Die Before I Get Old”

My generation would be the boomer generation. Statistically there are 77 Million of us born in the years between 1946-1964.

Though Boomers are never far from public consciousness, there is a resurgent look at us based on the fact the oldest Boomers will turn 65 beginning this January. Even the “back end Boomers” are now approaching 50. USA Today has been running an interesting series on Boomers turning 65 and one theme is that other age groups are tired of hearing about us boomers. Tough nuggies (that’s a Boomer expression). I am as sympathetic to the whining of non-Boomers as I am to those who carp about my Yankees “buying championships” (At least I know they are whining with envy).

But as we Boomers age, are we less happy? Here are excerpts from an article about a 2006 University of Michigan Study I found interesting…..

Back when he was 20 years old in 1965, rock star Pete Townshend wrote the line “I hope I die before I get old” into a song, “My Generation” that launched his band, the Who, onto the rock ‘n’ roll scene. But a unique study suggests that Townshend may have fallen victim to a common, and mistaken, belief: That the happiest days of people’s lives occur when they’re young.

In fact, the study finds, both young people and older people think that young people are happier than older people — when in fact research has shown the opposite. And while both older and younger adults tend to equate old age with unhappiness for other people, individuals tend to think they’ll be happier than most in their old age.

In other words, the young Pete Townshend may have thought others of his generation would be miserable in old age. And now, he might look back and think he himself was happier back then. But the opposite is likely to be true: Older people “mis-remember” how happy they were as youths, just as youths “mis-predict” how happy (or unhappy) they will be as they age.

The study, performed by VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan researchers, involved more than 540 adults who were either between the ages of 21 and 40, or over age 60.

“Overall, people got it wrong, believing that most people become less happy as they age, when in fact this study and others have shown that people tend to become happier over time,” says lead author Heather Lacey, Ph.D. “Not only do younger people believe that older people are less happy, but older people believe they and others must have been happier ‘back then’. Neither belief is accurate.”

Stereotypes about aging abound in our society, Lacey says, and affect the way older people are treated as well as the public policies that affect them. That’s why research on the beliefs that fuel those one-size-fits-all depictions of older people is important, she explains.

Interestingly, the younger people in the study predicted that they themselves would be about as happy at age 70 as they were in younger years, though they said that others their own age would probably get less happy over time. And the older people in the study tended to think that they’d be happier at older ages than other people would be.

So we Boomers might be getting a little long in the tooth, so to speak. But it doesn’t mean we aren’t happy, and that some of us can’t still can’t rock & roll all night and party every day–wrong band, but you get my point.

Other Boomer articles of interest:

Make Room for Boomers

55-64. The lost demo

More Strumings

Leave a Reply