December 17, 2010

Senior Lifestyles: Study Says We Are Full of Life

The results of a major study were released to Satisfying Retirement yesterday and make for fascinating reading. Home builder, Trilogy by Shea Homes, has just completed a rather impressive survey with over 2,000 seniors. The study was conducted through an on-line questionnaire with those 55+ to help determine how personality traits affect someone's housing needs. The homebuilder will use the data to help them sell housing in their high-end resort communities, but that doesn't make the findings any less interesting. Here are some of the highlights of this national survey:

Boomers are focused on connecting with others and staying near loved ones. For instance, social media is not just solely a phenomenon for younger people. Those taking the survey say they prefer collecting friends on social networks just as much as they do recipes – and even rank it slightly higher (37%) than collecting pictures of the grandkids (34%). In fact, over 85% of 55+ adults came to the survey from Trilogy’s Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. And boomers are especially committed to their loved ones. When deciding where to live next, they ranked being within driving distance of family and friends as the most important factor, followed closely by desires to create a balanced lifestyle and being more active.

The majority of boomers say retirement is not an end phase, but rather, a new and exciting chapter of life. 51% say it’s a time for re-invention and self-discovery, followed by different than it used to be (15%)), playtime (8%), over-rated (5%), an opportunity to give-back (5%), over-due (5%), obsolete (4%), and a chance to work from home (3%).

Boomers are out to make a difference. 24% say their church, synagogue or place of worship is their favorite cause, followed closely by environmental and animal causes with almost 24%.

When asked what they collect, they weren’t thinking of trinkets. 54% say it’s family memories, followed by recipes (39%), Facebook friends (37%) and pictures of their grandkids (34%).

Boomers look forward to a myriad of things: traveling (59%), having a balanced lifestyle (51%), being more active (46%), and having more “me” time (46%) in retirement - in that order. Pursuing new interests and hobbies (43%), living near people with similar interests (34%), having lots of activities to choose from (35%), and spending less time spent in rush hour (27%) ranked next.

Boomer know how to live a healthy lifestyle: maintain a mind-body balance, engage in healthy relationships and continually learn were ranked most important.  
This study is remarkably consistent with everything I have written and you have shared in this blog for the past six months. The results point to an active, involved, socially aware, and happy group of retirees. It tells me you would probably be interested in more articles about social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and more info on great travel experiences.
I am amazed at the importance of Facebook and Twitter - even more important than collecting pictures of grandkids. That will not sit well with my wife! Because those who participated mainly came from the Internet there is some research bias in both the findings and the type of people surveyed. But, they do represent a major faction and I am thrilled to receive this study.

I want to thank Trilogy by Shea Homes for the opportunity to get first crack at this data. If you'd like to see the actual survey it is available here. The homebuilder's site is available by clicking here.
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  1. Although I write for an online website and regularly upload images and content to that site, I'm afraid I've avoided Facebook and Twitter. I am woefully behind on the social media. I've spent so much time online while researching, writing, and loading my content that I didn't want to spend any longer than necessary. However, I would welcome articles about both.

  2. Like you, Linda, I felt I didn't need to get involved in the various types of social media. I believed they were time wasters and were primarily for kids.

    Well, my experience and this study prove me wrong. I have been involved with Twitter for 5 months now, have two accounts, and am finding it an excellent source of readers for this blog. I don't allow myself to spend too much time with it, just enough to accomplish my marketing and networking goals.

    I am not on Facebook. I've played around with it twice but abandoned the effort. What this research says is I'm making a mistake. I know that a high percentage of Twitter users also have a Facebook presence and many use it as another effective marketing tool.

    So, I think I better make another run at Facebook. Maybe an interesting article would be to have readers tell me why they use Facebook and some hints for us newbies. Then, I can document my experiences in setting up my page. I'll also schedule a post or two about Twitter in the near future.

    The times, they are a'changing.

  3. Hi Bob.

    I'm 51 and have a facebook account. I set it up earlier this year so I could vote for our local high school in the Kohl's Cares program (which incidentally resulted in our high school receiving $500,000 ... yes $500k!).

    I'm a pretty private guy, so I just get on a couple of times a week to see what's happening with my "friends" and don't post anything. If I want reach out to my friends I'll just send them an email. I particularly enjoy the pictures people post, especially those by our adult children.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  4. Hi J,

    You are the type of person (albeit a bit younger) the study talks about: using social media to stay in touch but not doing anything more with it than you desire.

    I guess I'll have to reactivate my page and join the world. My daughters are both Facebookers (is that a word?) and may be shocked when the old man asks to be one of their friends.

  5. It is not surprising to me that a site that is accessed by Twitter and Facebook would have those as priorities. I know few people, my age, on Facebook who use it for more than keeping up with the grandchildren. I have a prayer circle on it- but limit my "friends" greatly. Otherwise- I think this is right on track.
    I have also noticed that retiring is almost a bad word in my circles. It seems to say "I've made plenty to lay on my laurels". I am with this group where it is a reinvention or return to creativity.
    Good article Bob.

  6. Morning, Janette,

    I think the important point about anything like Twitter or Facebook is to use it for your purposes, and avoid all the hype. If it helps stay in touch with legitimate friends and exchange photos then this type of social media is a plus. If it becomes a substitute for real friendship and interaction, then you may have a problem. And, yes, the study does have a self-selecting bias based on how the data was collected.

    Much like the point you made in your most recent post, friendship is an important part of a satisfying retirement.