Baby Boomers actions for their Social and Financial challenges of Retirement

By Wayne W. Clark and Woodrow W. Clark II #

“I don’t feel old”

          There has been much written about the financial and social impact of the “Baby Boomer” generation, those born in the 20-year period between mid-1940’s to mid-1960’s. They have experienced many transition periods such as the growth of the suburbs in the 1950’s, the birth of rock n roll, the counter culture movement in the 60’s and 70’s; the affluence and then explosion of technology in the 80’s and 90’s; living and working on smart phones; the Vietnam and Middle-East Wars; and now the socio-political divisions arising in the 21st century in the USA and around the world.

          Today there is a new set of boomer challenges for their health, social relationships, family connections, retirement, financial stability, and emotional well-being, as they transition into the 21st century. Thus far, there has been some writing on their financial changes (FC&A, 2009), family issues, and retirement, but there has been less written on the individual experiences and patterns for this current transition in the boomer journey. We are outliving the age of our parents as   we pass thru our 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.

          The proposed series of essays will chronicle the varieties and patterns of this period of the boomer journey, looking at those that have planned their financial journey well, only to have their health fail; those that are not on financially firm ground but have exceptional health; those that have good health and finances but may have poor social connections and face the challenge of loneliness; to name just a few of the facets of the boomer experience.

The breadth and depth of this phase will be explored not as a road map, but instead as observations and comparative patterns articulated through real life analytic descriptions of the boomers’ ability to achieve resiliency and thrive.

          This series of papers will use qualitative sociological and ethnographic methodologies for the gathering of personal experiences, trends, themes, and patterns. The articles will explore the impact and resiliency of the boomers in managing their finances; use of time and social interactions; identifying, confronting and controlling their personal and family member illnesses; and recognizing as well as resolving other common experiences (vacations, holidays, birthdays and events etc.) that emerge for ALL members of the boomer generation. Lessons will be learned from helpful examples of warning signs on what has and has not been a productive path.

          The authors are Wayne Clark PhD (born November 1946) a student of the sociological research methodology (Glasser and Strauss) that draws from the participation and observation of the subject matter. Dr. Clark is a fifty-year career behavioral health leader in the public health sector, recently retired whose last employment was with a state level organization that promoted mental health in the

workplace, local communities, schools, and other organizational settings. The focus of his position was on the resiliency of individuals to face, overcome, and manage personal challenges, this methodological and experiential skill set will help illustrate the final chapter for the baby boomer generation.

Wayne most recently had the opportunity to work with human resource executives in the technology sector who spoke of a thriving innovative workforce in 21st century corporations where resiliency was integral in the recruitment, retention and vibrancy of modern corporate life. These employers recognized the need to assist employees both in and out of the workplace by providing counseling and other support in nonwork areas such as personal finance, physical and mental health, relationships, leisure activity and even support for families and relatives. We will look for examples of how boomer retirees are similarly trying to thrive in the final chapter of their lives.

          Woodrow W. Clark II MA3 PhD, is a Professor in multi-disciplinary areas such as linguist, anthropologist, internationalism as a qualitative economist (born in July 1945) with a diverse career in academics, business, and governments at all levels. Woodrow has published 16 academic books on topics ranging from climate change, innovation, entrepreneurship, qualitative economics, and school violence. Woody was a contributing member of the research team for the UN IPCC in the 1990s that earned Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

          Woody’s goal in his work and publications are to show how qualitative research in economics fulfills the full intent of that discipline to make it a Science not just an exploration of quantitative numbers, algorithms and formulas. Science is both qualitative and quantitative. Woody’s experiences in innovation technology and ethnographic methodological approaches were learned and developed through his tenure at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) the second largest research lab in the world then (1990s) and now today. Before that Woody had researched, produced and distributed documentaries on contemporary topics that are very relevant today such as sexual harassment, health (“laughter is good medicine”), older workers and more. This is Woody today:

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He has had extensive international experience when his documentary on sexual harassment in the early 1980s was translated into five languages and he gave lectures and talks especially in Japan due to their companies coming to the USA in the early 1980s. Woody was also a Fulbright Fellow in the early 1990s at AAlborg University (AAU), Denmark where he continues to learn about community and also international solutions to climate change.   

This series of papers will provide observational and participatory experiences about different conditions for and consequences of issues relevant to this stage in the boomer journey. The approach for gathering, categorizing, and presenting all the data is the constant comparative approach to systematic participation, observation, interviewing, and analysis of boomers’ everyday life. We will find actual cases and strategies the personal and collective experiences of baby boomers as they retire today; examples that will most likely resonate as symbols for our children and grandchildren.

          Boomers now are retiring in the tens of thousands and need to have and enact constructive plans which they transition to life, family and friends after work. All too many boomers are former 24/7 smartphone users that became workaholics who are suddenly disconnected and thrust into the challenge of what they do with themselves. For all too long, boomers have been admonished for needing to “get a life” and now have the opportunities to do that.  

We will find all too many boomers ill prepared while many even though they are prepared are shocked into the reality of age and ill health. The boomers can benefit from how others are creating positive strategies that are key ingredients for taking their fifty plus year careers into having a healthy fulfilling successful retirement. Whether they planned ahead by leading healthy lives or created significant nest eggs or created a strong social network, it is their experience of how they are managing now that can be most instructive.

          We will write more on all of this with information gathered from boomers own personal cases as they get older. Stay tuned and we welcome your ideas and feedback as we baby boomers face the “final chapter” sooner than we want or were prepared for in our lives.


# Wayne W. Clark PhD contact: [email protected] and Woodrow W. Clark II, MA3 PhD contact: [email protected]


How to retire happy, wild, and free, by Ernie J. Zelinski, 2018

Retiring well on a poor man’s budget, by the Editors of FC&A Publishing, 2009

The Discovery of Grounded Theory, by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, 1967

An Adult’s Guide to Social Skills, for Those Who Were Never Taught.

January 23, 2020 New York Times

Everyone Knows Memory Fails as You Age. But Everyone Is Wrong.

January 15, 2020, New York Times

Violence in Schools, Colleges and Universities. By Woodrow W. Clark II and         R. Laurence Kuhn


Sample of forthcoming topics:

Living with Cancer, caring for parent illnesses, detoxifying from being a workaholic, strategies for maintaining social relationships, loneliness alternatives, approaches to staying physically and emotionally healthy, maintaining intergenerational family relations, challenges of distance communications, the social personal challenge of retirement, etc.