From the Greatest Generation to the beginning of Generation X, all are 50-Plus
Four distinct generations make up the 50-plus community. On any given day, folks from all of these generations can be found at the Westlake Center for Senior & Community Services: The Greatest Generation (people born from 1901-1925), The Silent Generation (1926-1944), The Baby Boomers (1945-1964) and the early part of Generation X (1965-1984).
Since Generation X is just beginning to enter the 50-plus scene, we don't see or hear as much about them. Most of the focus is on The Baby Boomers, as they now constitute more than two-thirds of the 50-plus population.
So why is this important? Critics may say we are going overboard in labeling people, but not if the labels are just intended as generalities to help understand people. As long as we avoid utilizing them as cookie-cutter definitions, I think that they do provide some general guidance in understanding different people of different ages.
A generation is defined as an identifiable group that shares birth years, age and significant life events at critical developmental stages. While there is diversity among individuals within a generation, there is also a common ground and tendency to share certain thoughts, values and behaviors because of the shared events and happenings in the world while they were growing up. In other words, the culture of the time shaped the generation.
In order to best serve their communities, senior centers are challenged to understand the different needs and wants of these multiple generations. Based on generation, seniors may have vastly different visions of what they want to see in their "golden years," but all can be accommodated. The first step is to understand, honor and appreciate the differences. I'll just quickly highlight some common characteristics of each:
- The Greatest Generation: perseverance in the face of adversity, courageousness, frugality and traditional values
- The Silent Generation: hardworking, logical, loyal, conformist, and traditional outlook with a clear sense of right and wrong
- The Baby Boomers: independent, competitive, focused on health and wellness, value individuality, their jobs help them define success and personal fulfillment
- Generation X: independent, resourceful, self-sufficient, value freedom and responsibility in the work place, efficiency-oriented and define success as having a balanced life.
In the spirit of understanding generational differences, our Senior and Community Center in Westlake is in the process of gathering names of Baby Boomers who would be interested in both receiving Boomer-specific communications from us, and/or be open to participate in a focus group to provide input. If you are interested call or email me at 440-899-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Westlake Senior & Community Center is located at 29694 Center Ridge Road. While transportation and social services are for Westlake residents only, our 50-plus activities are open to both residents and non-residents. Check www.cityofwestlake.org/community-services to view our monthly newsletter.
I am the Director of the Senior and Community Services Department for the City of Westlake. I am also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.