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Mather Institute Launches 5 Year Study on Generation X

Gen Xers ranked family, career, and health and wellness as highest priorities in life.

Mather Institute  Study on Generation X

The Mather Institute has launched a five-year study to determine various aspects about what Generation X wants out of senior living in an effort to better appeal to them. The report, “The Gen Xperience: A 5-Year Journey into the Lives of Generation X,” explores the results of an online survey examining key lifestyle trends, attitudes, and interests. A nationally representative sample of 2,504 members of Generation X (age 43-58 at the time of this report) and 2,515 members of the baby boomer generation (age 59-77 at the time of this report) participated.

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers born at a time when Americans were having fewer children. In 2019, there were 65 million Gen Xers in the United States, while the older baby boomer (1946 to 1964) and younger millennial (1981 to 1996) generations each numbered approximately 72 million). Caught between two larger generations, Gen Xers have been labeled the Forgotten Generation. Although Gen X is smaller in number compared to its adjacent generations, they are estimated to outnumber baby boomers by 2028 (Fry, 2020).

Gen Xers are becoming primary decision makers for their parents, and represent a sizable portion of the senior living workforce.

Five Key Takeaways from the Survey

  1. Gen Xers ranked family (47%), career (19%), and health and wellness (14%) as their highest priorities in life.

  2. Gen Xers are generally satisfied with their family life, career, and wellness; however, many are also navigating considerable stress in these areas.

  3. Two out of five Gen Xers are not able to get as much self-care as they need.

  4. Gen Xers have more concerns about aging than boomers, particularly related to finances, memory problems, and social isolation. However, boomers are more concerned about losing their independence.

  5. As they get closer to retirement age, only a third of Gen Xers are financially prepared to support their aging parents’ needs.

Plan Early for Healthy Longevity

The study finds it’s not too early to support Gen Xers’ plans for their future. This “sandwich generation” plays an important role in shaping their communities and families. Many are juggling the responsibilities of a career, raising children, and supporting aging parents. More than one-half of people in their 40s and a third of people in their 50s are part of the sandwich generation (Horowitz, 2022). 

In this study:

  • 38% one child under 18.of Gen Xers are raising at least

  • 20% supporting an adult child.of Gen Xers are financially

  • 67% parent aged 65+.of Gen Xers have at least one

This generation also has more concerns about their finances, cognitive decline and social isolation than Boomers. Survey findings showed that Gen Xers were “notably more stressed” than their baby boomer counterparts in all aspects of life. Gen Xers are also more likely than predecessors to enter their retirement years without children or a spouse.

Gen Xers surveyed leaned towards a focus on holistic wellness to address “mental health, loneliness, stress and burnout," yet often don’t make time for self-care. Although they are in agreement that self-care is important (only 4% disagreed), only 41% don’t get as much self-care as they need.

Holistic wellness programs and resources can be designed to encourage this generation to make lifestyle decisions that support their long-term health, such as making time for self-care, sleep, and physical activity. Also, Gen Xers who are solo agers may benefit from additional resources, such as legal and financial advisors and support with advance care planning.

The Mather Institute found that providers could reach Generation X members by offering financial planning resources; leverage new technology for programming and services; creating holistic wellness programs; implementing strategies to support and attract a more diverse Generation X population; and offering greater availability of flexible work schedules and stress management tools.

“The first year results reinforce our initial perception that wellness is very important to Gen Xers and because of their concern of social isolation and cognitive decline, it showed us the importance of implementing programming around mindfulness, meditation and technology that focuses on fitness and wellness,” said Mather CEO Mary Leary.

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