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Aging Well: Generation X, examined

A new study from Mather Institute explores the lifestyle trends, attitudes, and priorities of Generation X

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Generation X — whose members are currently 43 to 58 years old — has been continually overshadowed by the much larger baby boomer and millennial generations. Yet these days, this “forgotten generation” has moved to the forefront. They are parents; employees and bosses; social, cultural, and political leaders… but who are they?

New research offers a detailed look at Gen X’s key lifestyle trends, attitudes, and interests. The Gen Xperience Study is a five-year research study of Mather Institute, an award-winning resource for research on wellness, aging, and successful aging service innovations. The Institute is the research area of Mather, a not-for-profit organization with other areas of service, community-based initiatives, and luxury senior living communities including The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better in Tysons, Virginia.

“The topic of Generation X is important to us for several reasons,” says Raj Radke, Vice President and General Manager of The Mather. “Many of our team members are Gen X; the adult children of many current residents belong to this generation, as do a sizeable percentage of The Mather residents!”

For its Year 1 report, Mather Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,504 members of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980). In order to draw comparisons and paint a picture of where Gen Xers might be heading in the future, they also surveyed 2,515 members of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964).

“We found that Gen Xers have three clear priorities: family, career, health and wellness,” says Jennifer Smith, PhD, AVP and director of Mather Institute. “Interestingly, we also found that although they are generally satisfied, many of them are also experiencing considerable stress in these same areas.”

For example, it’s no surprise that 81% of Gen Xers are stressed about finances at least sometimes. And — although this generation prioritizes their physical and mental health — nearly one-third of them reported that their wellness is a source of concern: 35% are stressed about their physical health, and 34% are stressed about their mental health. While 96% said that self-care is important to them, two out of five also admitted they don’t get as much self-care as needed.

“We were curious about how these stresses, perspectives, and experiences among Generation X compared to those of baby boomers,” says Jennifer. “We were intrigued to learn that Gen Xers — despite being younger — have more concerns about aging than their boomer counterparts.” The study shows that members of Gen X are specifically worried about their future finances, memory problems, and social isolation. However, when baby boomers think about growing older, they are more concerned about losing their independence.

In short, members of Generation X are doing their best to Age Well. For the most part, they are satisfied with their lives, though many are also coping with stress. The next few years of Mather Institute’s research may reveal changes in both the levels of satisfaction and in stressors.

“The Gen Xperience Study gives us deeper insights into an important generation,” says Radke. “We at The Mather are delighted to have this opportunity to better understand Generation X. We’re looking at ways to apply what we’ve learned from the report to support team members and residents alike.”

The Year 1 findings of the study are available in a free downloadable report, The Gen Xperience: A 5-Year Journey into the Lives of Generation X. You can find it at GenXperienceStudy.com.

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opened in March 2024.

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