West Virginia Asks First Wave Boomers About Their Future


West Virginia undertook an interesting survey of first wave boomers (born 1946- 1954). Some items noted in the executive summary might give a sense of things to come. What jumps out from the start is:

Traveling and sightseeing are planned by 63% of Boomers

It is the most planned for activity by this demographic. Read on about their needs and note how the moment is ripe for Universal Design.

Leisure Interests and Activities

The Aging Services Network will soon encounter a new participant generation with somewhat different leisure needs and interests from previous ones.

< 48% want to do volunteer work which could be a considerable resource for

Aging Services in the future

< 48% also plan to pursue use of computers and the Internet and 47% plan to engage in activities for maintaining physical fitness

< 25% plan to spend some of their leisure time taking adult education classes

Membership and Participation in Organizations

< 20% or fewer are members of or take part in fraternal, community/neighborhood, school, labor or business organizations or associations

< However, 40% report involvement in religious or church-related organizations in their communities.


< 5% have a parent or grandparent living with them

< 10% say they are caring for someone 65 and older not able to care for themselves

Community Resources

Senior and Community Centers can potentially play a central role in helping Boomers meet the challenges of coming retirement years. In this regard,

< 80% of Boomers know of these Centers in their communities and 55% express an interest in coming to them when they achieve age eligibility

< importantly for Center funding, 73% are willing to share the cost of services at the Centers, if they are affordable

< more than one-half would like to know more about these Centers and the programs and services they offer

Health and Healthcare

There is both good and bad news from the sample of Boomers surveyed.

The good news:

< about 75% say their health is now excellent or good; 90% have a regular physician they see when they need medical attention

And, then the not-so-good news:

< 30% report having an illness which restricts their activity and 35% have had financial problems in the previous year associated with healthcare costs!

< only 27% will have employer-based health courage in retirement and the same portion expect to have to pay for healthcare themselves

< 8% report having no current coverage

Work and Retirement

Although 67% are currently employed at full-time jobs, only 23% expect to receive a private sector pension in retirement.


< 78% expect to have some personal savings or assets to draw on in retirement, but only 13% expect these to be their main source of retirement income

< 40% expect Social Security benefits to be the main source of income in retirement

< 30% expect household income in retirement to be $20,000 or less and an additional 27% expect it to be from $20,000 to $30,000

< 13% expect retirement income to be $50,000 per year or more

< rural residents and women expect lower retirement incomes

Looking Toward the Future

Expressed Boomer confidence on a number of issues related to their retirement is remarkably low.

< only 22% are confident of being able to manage healthcare costs

< confidence in the availability of Medicare and Social Security is shared by only 28% of responders

< 36% are confident they will be financially secure and 39% that their pensions will be secure and there for them when they retire

Lastly, those fortunate Boomers who expect the highest income in retirement are also clearly more confident about the issues studied. Conversely, 57% of those expecting less than $30,000 per year are least confident.

Years of education completed in earlier years bear a strong relationship to expected income and confidence in the quality of a future retirement.

Thanks to Marcie Schwarz for reviwing the study.

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