The 76 million-strong demographic is making headlines for providing a slew of market opportunities such as construction services that make homes more senior-friendly; supermarkets with lower shelves and wheelchair-compatible shopping carts; and sales and tech support by phone for seniors, by seniors.
Would-be retirees are taking over the workforce, too. A recent study by the Center for Work-Life Policy found that 62 percent of working boomers expect to stay in the labor force for at least nine more years, and that by 2020, 80 percent of North American-born workers will be older than 50. Some experts even expect a boom in entrepreneurship as healthcare reform takes effect.
"What this means is that boomers will have a lot of power," says Stephen Sweet, a lead researcher at Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging and Work. As boomers age toward retirement, employers will have to consider alternative work arrangements and other ways to accommodate them. The impending takeover is "on everyone's radar," he says.
Besides, these days, being old doesn't automatically mean you lose cool points. Last fall, American University offered a class on boomers, complete with a festival showing movies like The Graduate and The Big Chill. And as proof that it takes more than sunshine and souped-up golf carts to keep retirees happy, Florida took only one spot in a recent CNN list of Top 25 best places to retire. (The top three were university towns in North Carolina, New Hampshire and Kentucky.)
And the clincher: Hollywood got in on the cool retirees movement with the fall action flick RED, which stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman as four retired and extremely dangerous (RED, get it?) ex-CIA agents--think The Bourne Identity, but funny, and with old people.
"Old man, my ass," Malkovich's character smirks in one scene, right after taking out a rocket with a single bullet. --J.W.