Bill Sniffin: Are We Seeing The Last Days Of Oldest Baby Boomers?

Columnist Bill Sniffin writes: "Baby boomers are dying at an alarming rate. This is not a good trend for a whole bunch of us. And shoot, I am probably the oldest baby boomer."

Bill Sniffin

April 22, 20236 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Baby boomers are dying at an alarming rate. This is not a good trend for a whole bunch of us.

Here in Wyoming, my estimate of the number of baby boomers totals 132,267 people. This is almost one-fourth of the state’s population.

And shoot, I am probably the oldest baby boomer. By my reckoning, my parents conceived me sometime in June 1945 with birth somewhat early in the morning on March 21, 1946. By my definition, to be a boomer, you needed to be conceived by a soldier (like my dad) arriving home at the war’s end. 

Behind me came another 76 million boys and girls, the largest generation of Americans in our country’s history, the baby boomers. These are folks born between the years 1946 and 1964.

The term baby boomer was coined to describe a gigantic group of babies born in the wake of World War II.  It was truly an explosion of population as Americans procreated at a rate never seen before. 

And now, here we are, most of the older ones are gray haired, on Social Security and Medicare and, frankly, stunned. How could this lifetime have passed by so quickly?

Oldest baby boomers are just turning 77. The youngest are just turning 59.

Here is the most sobering fact of all: Across the USA, almost 20 million baby boomers have already died. Yikes.

Your Future Is Behind You

It used to be said that 60 is the new 40. That was true. But folks ten years older than that found out 70 is just a year older version of 69.

Way back when turning 50, my family put on a nice party for me here in Lander when hitting that magic age. The theme was “how does it feel to have your future behind you?”

Turns out, there was a lot of future ahead of me.

The past 27 years have been crammed full of lots of projects and events. What is in store for the next 27? Hmmm, my age will be 104 at the end of that period.

One of my next projects may be writing a series of columns about those folks I call “First Boomers.”  To me, this should probably include anyone born during World War II as well as those of us born immediately afterward.

By my reckoning, “First Boomers” are folks born between 1940 and 1953. Anyone now just turning 70 and those inching toward 83 would qualify. This is an amazing group of hardy folks.

Blessed With Four Seasons Of Life

If we are talking about these lives using seasons as metaphors, our Autumn is rapidly turning into Winter.

A biblical prediction is that if blessed, we will be given four 20-year periods in our life. Spring is youth, Summer is the prime time, Autumn is slowing down but productive, and Winter is, well, wintery at best.

As part of our First Boomer’s lives, Spring was truly wonderful. Not sure any generation of people ever had it so good job-wise as the First Boomers. Jobs, careers, and opportunities were plentiful in America in the 1960s and 1970s.

What could be called our Summer period in the 1980s through 2000 was just fine, too.  We did not have quite as many kids as our parents did, but we populated the country with quantities of Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennial babies.

Now, as most of us have passed the end of the Autumn of our lives with golden wedding anniversaries and grandparenthood.

From the years 2000 to 2023, we have found out we can thoroughly enjoy living vicariously through the exploits and adventures, not just of ourselves, but also of our children and grandchildren.

Even though, at 70, we wanted to believe this is the new 50, but our bodies told us something different.

It is astonishing the number of my contemporaries who have turned into bionic people. Artificial knees, hips, and shoulders plus hearing aids and new eyeball lenses (due to cataracts) are commonplace. We know a great many people who survived heart procedures and cancer treatments, too.

Some of the more lazy among us sit in recliners that launch you up when you get out of them. Way too many of us use little scooters to get around the grocery stores and Walmarts. Those handicap signs are ubiquitous on the mirrors and license plates of our cars.

That scourge on the highway called the monstrous RV is probably being piloted by a boomer.

Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic as it accompanies its most common attribute, obesity. Younger folks talk about their BMI (Body Mass Index). Most older folks hesitate to take the test. And yet there are now potent drugs called Ozempic, Trulicity, and Mounjaro, (plus the old standby Metformin) that not only control Type 2 diabetes, but also cause a person to lose weight and best of all, are rumored to prolong life. How good is that!

My doctor says I am in pretty good health but he still puts me on meds he thinks will prolong my life. Hope he is right. Of course, it doesn’t make me feel any better when we have grandchildren that are about his age.

And taking all those meds can’t help but make me nervous. Most of my friends are popping their own regimens of pills each day for real and/or imagined ills.

The good news is that if we have lived this long (if we are not smokers or cancer-prone or heart attack-prone), the odds are we may live into our 80s and onward.

When we get together, we often do an “organ recital.” How is your heart?  Your kidneys? Your prostate?

And we love to talk about the weather. A funny story is about three guys on the golf course. First one says “It’s Windy.” The second one says: “No, it’s Thursday.” The third one says: “I’m thirsty, too. Let’s go get a drink.”

What Does The Future Hold?

Despite all the above, personally, this is a very exciting time for me. I can see more writing, more travel, and more community service. And most importantly, more time with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Our children, who are in their 40s and 50s, already refer to themselves as “chopped liver” when it comes to relating to us over how we seem to prefer inquiring about our grandkids and great-grandkids.   

As the oldest baby boomer, I have experienced a lot in my life, and also as a journalist, I hope to write some of it down. Stay tuned.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.