Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Images of aging–Baby Boomer style
by Rock, Marilyn Osborne, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2013, 225; 3561081
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to determine the images of aging of a small sample of Early Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1951. The Baby Boomers are a generation consisting of those born between 1946 and 1964. This study focuses on a narrower range of birth years in order to capture the images of aging of those now 60 and over who came of age in the 1960s and early 1970s. They represent the first wave of the Baby Boom Generation to reach age 65, society's marker of "old age." Baby Boomers are the largest generation in history and currently 10,000 of them are turning 65 every day. The questions posed in this study were to explore how these Early Baby Boomers expect to age, how their generational experience influences their image of aging, and how that image differs from that of previous generations.

Using a phenomenological and hermeneutical research method, eight men and eight women with like ethnic, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics were interviewed. Through recordings and verbatim transcriptions the collective meaning of life, aging influences, fears, and expected life spans were determined. The collective results were compared to literature of aging stereotypes of previous generations. This select group reported that they will not age and are surprised when experiencing small signs of aging. Work is what brings meaning to their lives and they have no plans of retiring. They expect to maintain control over the length and quality of their lives. These Early Baby Boomers expect to establish a new image of aging.

As the numbers of Baby Boomers age and lifespan lengthens, unavoidable losses will occur. Researchers predict an increase in depression, addiction, and dementia. The Early Baby Boomer expects their needs to be met and as those losses occur they will increasingly seek mental health professionals to "fix" their emotional responses. It is important for mental health professionals to understand the unique generational lens from which Boomers view aging in order to provide quality assessment, recommendations, referral, and treatment.

Key words: boomer; aging; generation; image; mental health; retirement; lifespan.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Peterson, Christine
Commitee: Chinen, Allan, Lewis, Christine
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Aging, Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Aging, Boomer, Generation, Life span, Mental health, Retirement
Publication Number: 3561081
ISBN: 978-1-303-07858-3
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