Our aging population means changing the way workplaces deal with disability.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by iStock.

Dolly, a 66-year-old resident of southern Maine, began working as a young teenager, eventually securing a job with her local public school system. She worked for 29 years as the administrative assistant for the district’s adult education program. After a surgery required to combat endometrial cancer, Dolly says she was “slammed into menopause,” and as a result, her memory and focus started faltering. “I would liked to have worked until I was 70, but I could see writing on the wall that my director was not happy; I was having a terrible time keeping up,” says Dolly. She felt “pushed out the door,” and she approached her boss about beginning to plan for retirement in a few years. A few weeks later, she was given a retirement date for the end of that school year. “I did feel definitely pressured to retire right then,” she says. Dolly, who asked that we use only her first name for potential negative professional repercussions, and her husband were not sure they could manage on their pensions and Social Security and are both looking to find part-time jobs to stay afloat.

In the early 2000s, the forecasted disasterlike magnitude of the needs of the U.S.’s huge aging population earned them the nickname the “silver tsunami”—baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1963) who are approaching retirement and in increasing need of elder care services; some estimate that 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65 by the year 2030.

Of course, not all baby boomers will be retiring, and certainly not retiring at the rates of their parents. That’s because our economy is very different today, and many boomers either never had adequate retirement funds or had them wiped away in the Great Recession. According to one survey, two-thirds of baby boomers will continue to work after age 65.

Sue, a 60-year-old grandmother in Columbus, Ohio, who also wishes to use her first name in case of negative repercussions to her professional life, has been working for 35 years in various administrative capacities for a large church in the city. When she was raising her children, she did not work full time. “I was primarily a stay-at-home mom,” Sue says. Usually she worked for only a few hours on the weekend. But with a late-in-life divorce, her retirement became a pressing concern. After speaking with a financial adviser, Sue is hopeful to retire at 67 and spend more time with her family. But she is also keeping an open mind—she knows she may find herself working into her 70s if the government continues delaying the age she can access Social Security.

Sue is not alone. A 2016 retirement confidence survey cites several reasons for this: a poor economy, inadequate finances, and needing to pay for skyrocketing health care costs. According to this survey, 46 percent of retirees left the workforce before they planned to, with 55 percent of that number leaving because of a disability or health problem.

In an article in the University of Chicago Law Review, Michael Stein, visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and his co-authors argue that retaining older workers’ capabilities is in everyone’s interest, precisely because the financial costs of Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, and pensions are dwindling as baby boomers are living longer. Thus, creating workplaces that effectively accommodate aging bodies is to the economic benefit of the country—and to the social benefit of those who want to continue to work. And as Stein and his colleagues suggest, this kind of flexibility can be considered a workplace enhancement tool—making workplaces more adaptable and allowing them to both retain employees and ensure productivity at the same time—that is best for the economy and for the worker.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990 and amended in 2008 to cover a wide array of age-related conditions, was designed to provide strategies and tools for people to continue working despite an impairment. It was developed as a result of decades of political activism, known as the disability rights movement, and, among other components, prohibits discrimination against disabled people in the workplace. No one can be fired or denied a promotion on the basis of a disability if a reasonable accommodation can be made to allow a person with a disability to perform the job. The problem with the ADA is that while it was intended to cover a large scope of human bodies, it has been interpreted in a very limited way by the courts.

According to Stein and his co-authors, before 2010, more than 97 percent of claimants in federal trial courts lost. The 2008 amendments were designed to make it easier to prove you qualify as disabled, but challenges remain. Stein and his colleagues write that one of the main barriers to claimant success is this balancing act in trying to prove that they are disabled enough but not too disabled, something that many older working Americans may have trouble balancing with gradually developing, age-related impairments such as muscular-skeletal pain; vision impairments; or, like Dolly, memory and focus problems. Statistically, even if Dolly had used the ADA to ask for accommodations, she’d have low odds of winning her case. And that’s if she can even find a lawyer who wants to get behind her in the first place.

AARP has a pledge program that works with employers to encourage the hiring and retention of older employees. According to Heather Tinsley-Fix, senior adviser for AARP, employers become aware of this program through active recruiting at various HR conferences and often voluntarily opt-in.

While AARP’s program is a start, not having official standards for hiring and retaining older workers leaves many businesses guessing at best practices; the work of Stein and his colleagues around universal design in the workplace is a helpful and strategic place to start.

Beth Loy, a principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network, has several practical solutions for accommodations in the workplace, including moving work stations closer to restrooms and providing access to refrigerators, allowing a personal attendants at work, and providing flexible schedules and self-paced workloads. According to Loy, the trade-offs for providing accommodations are invaluable, including providing long-term institutional knowledge, well-established workplace networks, and diversity of perspectives.

There are indeed ways in which older workers contribute invaluably to the workplace—their institutional memory and long-term commitment being just two examples. But in the absence of any effective way to require companies to accommodate their employees, these aging workers are at the mercy of the market.

Thanks to Nicole Buonocore Porter, professor of law at the University of Toledo, for her help with this post.

Baby Bottle Warmers – Why You Need Them and What Are the Advantages

Baby Bottle Warmers – why do you need them?

Mom’s need to be careful when heating pumped breastmilk or formula. If you heat breastmilk in the microwave it can change the milk’s composition which cause the milk to lost certain anti-infective properties and nutrients even when microwaved for a short amount of time. This is why they are very effective and why most newborn’s parents are buying them. Breastmilk is generally very sensitive to warm temperatures and can very eaily lose it’s vitamin C content. Heating breastmilk on the stove is also ineffective because it causes a central spike in temperature which cause the breaskmilk to break apart. Just like microwaved breastmilk, it causes a loss of minerals, immunological properties, vitamins and micro-nutrients very quickly. So what can you do? You can obviously put the pumped breastmilk in a sterilized bottle and run it under hot water for ten minutes – but who wants to do this when a newborn is screaming because he or she is starving? The same thing goes with formula. For years doctors have been saying that microwaving formula causes horrible heat distribution which can burn babies’ mouth’s and bellies. Although most people shake bottles to avoid this – it always does not work because heat tends to re-conglomerate immediately. Warming the water is a much safer method.

How do you use baby bottle warmers?

Most can easily heat pumped breastmilk and formula in about one to three minutes. They are very convenient because if the baby’s room is upstairs you can keep the warmer up there also. By the time you change your newborn’s diaper the baby bottle warmer could have easily warmed up 3 or 4 ounce of milk. They are very easy-to-use, quick and reliable. You would never need to worry that your new babysitter will over cook a bottle in the microwave. I bought one of the Philips Avent iQ baby Bottle Warmers and it works like a charm. You just add water into the container and select setting. You put the bottle in and close the lid and leave it. The baby bottle warmer heats the milk by very quickly evaporate the water and heats the breastmilk without any hotspots and without breaking down the milk’s composition. Now that my baby is up to about 4 ounces, I can warm a bottle up in about 3.5 minute to heat the milk to a perfect temperature.

Who would have known that heating breastmilk or formula would be such a science!! On top of the great advantages noted above, I find that my baby simply prefers warm milk so it is perfect for me. It is very convenient, it does not take up a lot of room and I can easily put it in any cupboard when I am done with it. It is very compact and you can take it into any room! A little hint for most of the bottle warmer out there – if you can use distilled water then do it. Otherwise if you use tap water, your baby bottle warmers will have some mineral build up.

So are baby bottle warmers a necessity?

I think so. I think that if parents are going to bottle feed their baby pumped breastmilk once in a while or formula, if is an absolute necessity. Not only does it have many advantages but they are very simple to use. You add water and stick the bottle in. When it’s done warming the baby bottle warmer lights up and that’s that. Shake the bottle and feed the baby. The baby bottle warmers on the market today are able to hold both big thicker newborn bottles, short, tall or skinny bottles. They work great at night and you can do the whole process with one hand.

Which ones would I recommend?

Definitely the Philips Avent. It’s been fantastic for my husband and I. The First Years Night & Day Bottle Warmer System is a good one because it is also a bottle cooler. If I were to do it again I would probably buy the Gerber Bottle Warmer or the Munchkin Deluxe Bottle And Food Warmer With Pacifier Cleaning Basket. The Gerber Electric Bottle Warmer has great reviews and is fantastic to travel with. The Philips Avent Express Baby Food and Bottle Warmer is also a great baby bottle warmer.

Remember using a microwave for pumped breast milk and formula is never recommended for heating your baby bottle. Not only is it difficult to judge how long you should heat the bottle for, it breaks up it causes a loss of minerals, immunological properties, vitamins and micro-nutrients very quickly. Hot spot are a danger to sensitive babies. You can run bottles under hot water but why wait ten minute and keep checking. This is the greatest gift we got for our newborn. These are revolutionary products that will warm frozen breast milk very safely, quickly and without destroying the important vitamin and nutrients that babies need. The advanced thermostatic controls on them and the thermal fuse allows you to warm bottles, disposable bags with frozen pumped breastmilk without boiling or over-heating. Another hint – get one with a timer!!

Techniques To Have A Boy Baby

I’m often asked for “the best techniques for couples wanting to have a boy baby.” In the following article, I’ll offer three techniques that are relatively easy to achieve, and, when done all at one time, should significantly raise your odds of getting a boy baby.

Technique Number One: Know Exactly When You Ovulate And Wait Until After This To Have Sex: Many people who are trying to conceive believe that by having sex often and more, they will have a better chance of getting pregnant. While this is theoretically true, this method also lessons your chances to get the gender of your choice. See, the boy producing sperm (the Y’s) have a much shorter life span than the X’s, which are the chromosomes that produce baby girls. If you try to conceive early (before ovulation,) then many of the Y or boy producing chromosomes would have died off by the time you ovulate and the egg can become fertilized.

The idea is to increase the number of Y chromosomes present at ovulation because this increases your chances of a boy. Conceiving late and after ovulation is one way to do this. So how do you know when you ovulate when it is so very important to have the timing right? You use an ovulation predictor. I know there are a lot of methods for predicting ovulation, but many have so many variables and room for human error. Predictors don’t have these issues and are inexpensive and easy to use. I prefer the saliva type but any is better than guessing.

With this said, you can have frequent sex after you have ovulated. It’s just important to wait until after this occurrence before you do.

Technique Number Two: Make Sure That You Are Not Too Acidic: In the same way that having sex too early can kill off boy producing Y chromosomes, the same is true for an acidic environment. In the same way that roses don’t thrive certain climates, Y’s don’t thrive in acidic surroundings. To avoid this. you’ll want to be alkaline rather than acidic. Three tools that can help you with this are PH test strips as well as a good food list and douche recipes. The reason for this is that diet and douching are two pretty easy ways to tweak your PH and acidity. You use the strips to see where you are and to monitor your progress. You use the food list and the douche recipes as a way to change up your diet and vaginal PH and get faster results.

Technique Number Three: Use the Sexual Positions That Make Boy Babies More Likely But Personalize Them To Your Situation: Most people know that sexual positions can influence baby gender. Shallow penetration is said to favor girls while deeper penetration is used if you want a boy baby. However, few people take the time to really research which positions achieve this for them. And, what works best for one couple may not work best for you. There are a lot of variables like height, weight and comfort level. It’s always a good idea to experiment and see what works best well before you are trying to conceive.

Haims: The baby boomer population is aging; be proactive and assist your loved ones (column)

I don’t know of any of my contemporaries who can tell me that the university or college they attended offered a course on aging. Thus, it is with little surprise than many of us have little idea how to best assist our aging loved ones.

According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 300 million baby boomers in the United States. In 2015, an estimated 4 million more baby boomers will become 50 years old.

Worldwide, we are ill prepared to address the needs of this population. Consequently, new research, marketing, products and services are coming to fruition. Servicing the boomer generation is creating new businesses and industries, ultimately generating big dollars.

Driven by potential new revenue streams and economic development, we will meet many of the needs of our aging population. However, it remains less clear that we will address the human and emotional needs of both the aging and those persons who will provide help for them.

On almost a weekly basis, our office receives phone calls from the adult children (persons in their 30s to 60s) of seniors who are looking for advice and resources to aid their parents and loved ones. Many of these adult children have suddenly found themselves thrust into the role of being a caregiver. Often, when an elderly parent or loved one becomes hospitalized, diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness or can no longer care of themselves, it is usually the children of the elderly parent who have to step in and respond.

Many of the persons reaching out to our office are looking for assistance with how to keep their aging loved ones at home and how to know when living at home is no longer a safe option. Dealing with such issues as independent and assisted living, providing daily care within the home, assisting with daily errands, driving, financial choices, health and end of life are very personal and difficult topics.

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My suggestion as a first step to finding out how much your parents or loved ones have prepared for their future is to address the topics of, health, legal and finances. Find out if they have long-term care insurance and, if not, how they plan to pay for nursing home care or in-home help, if necessary.

Do they have a will and have they designated powers of attorney? You may also want to ask if they want to remain at home or if they would choose an independent living community. Do they have an estate plan, family trust or other means of protecting their assets?

Following are a few topics of discussion that should be noted for both yourself and your parents:

Is their home still appropriate for their needs?

• Can they attend to a front or back yard?

• Can they manage stairs?

• Can they safely cook and attend to keeping the home clean and tidy?

• Can they safely drive?

• Is there a plan in place for emergencies?

• Would a personal emergency response systems be beneficial?

Is there a retirement plan?

• Determine if their living expenses fall within a sustainable budget.

• Are there funds allocated to pay for in-home care or assisted living?

• Does a family member have both power of attorney and durable power of attorney. (They are not one in the same.)

• Is there a will in place?

Health and health insurance:

• What health problems do they have?

• Is there a health insurance plan in place that is appropriate for their medical needs?

There are no rulebooks to look to for specific guidance. We are trailblazing. If you have walked this path or are currently dealing with these situations, share your stories with your friends. While the particulars may be unique to each of us, the grander view of aiding our loved ones is shared by all of us.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.

Wake Up Baby Boomers – There's Still Time

Over 90% of all retired Americans will be forced to live on less than $ 12,000 a year!

Yes, I have to admit it. I am an aging Baby Boomer! Our first grandchild was born last year. Does it make me feel older? Not necessarily. It's all a matter of outlook and attitude to life.

OK Physically I'm starting to get some of the aches and pains that come with the aging process. But mentally I'm still in my mid-twenties. (Sometimes a heck of a lot younger, so my wife often tells me!)

The 1960's covered my mid-teens and mid-twenties. What a great era that was in England (where I was born and raised – we have been living in Canada since 1981.) Would you believe I saw the Rolling Stones in concert before they hit the big time! They had just released their first record.

Ah yes. Life was simpler then. Life was sweet. No home computers, no cell phones, no Internet. But now, of course we have all of these things and take them for granted. Especially computers and the Internet.

Never before in history has it been possible for so many people to have their own home business using these powerful tools.

This truly is the age of mass communication and information sharing.

The question is, have us Baby Boomers been left behind in this huge technological wake? Have we missed the boat?

I believe the answer to this is an emphatic "NO!"

Like I said, growing up in the sixties was great. Retirement was a lifetime away. But, my friend, lifetime has a nasty habit of passing by all too quickly. Believe me, I know!

So we live our lives, enjoying each day that comes (or at least trying to), still thinking that retirement is a long way off. After all, there's the mortgage to pay; a new car would be nice; we could really do with a vacation this year; the kitchen could do with a makeover. And then it hits you like a ton of bricks. The stone of your 60'th birthday is creeping up REALLY fast … TOO fast.

Studies show that over 90% of North Americans will be living at or below the poverty line by the time they reach retirement age.

Are you faced with the prospect of becoming one of these statistics?

So, you're probably wondering what I'm trying to get at here.

Remember what I said about having powerful tools like computers and the Internet at our disposal? And yes, it's true, never before has it been more possible to start your own home business. Make a resolution today to look into starting your own home business. If you have already started, then congratulations! But you too should resolve to stick at it and follow it through to success.

If you do not know much about computers – learn. If you do not know the first thing about marketing – learn. Building a successful home business all begins with education. Learn the skills you need to gradually build your business. The Internet is FULL of information that will help you. And most of it is free!

Yes, it's hard work to get things going and you will get frustrated at times. But it's also a lot of fun. Compare this to the job you are doing now. If you are like me, then I'm willing to bet there is no comparison!

I just realized as I was writing this article that I aimed it at Baby Boomers as I am one myself. However, the same holds true for any age group. It's never too late or too early to change direction in life. You just have to make the decision to improve your lot and then commit to it.

So the choice is yours. And it should be clear. Do you know which path you will follow? Do you know what my next move is?

© Dave Kendrick – All Rights reserved

What is Baby Stranger Anxiety?

Baby stranger anxiety is your childs very first fear. The onset is usually around 6 or 7 months of age with a peak at 10 or 12 months. This is a time when a once social, content baby becomes shy and clingy. These changes are just a common part of a child’s development and are very appropriate. This article will discuss the causes of baby stranger anxiety and give some tips on how you can help your baby through this stressful time.

For the first few months, a baby is unaware that they are their own person. They feel attachment to their caregiver and security, but they soon start to realize that there are different people. When a child realizes they are not attached to their care giver and they are their own person they will start to examine the people around them. Your infant who once cooed and smiled at everyone may now start to prefer certain individuals over others. You may notice they prefer women over men or like or dislike certain facial features like beards. This is all just part of their learning process. Baby stranger anxiety is really the start of a baby learning they are an individual and independent.

A baby learns very early in life that some things and people bring them comfort and joy, like their parents touch and their favorite teddy. At the same time they realize that other things bring them pain and discomfort, like if the family cat bites them, or they hit their arm on the coffee table. This causes them to start being a little timid around things and people who are new, and to cling to things that are familiar and safe to them. When babies where attached to their parents they were protected and safe. Now that they realize they are on their own and can get hurt, they can be unsure of things. Everything is new and scary to them, so they will tend to hold on to what they know and want to stay where they feel safe.

When your child is suffering from baby stranger anxiety it is important that you realize this is a real fear and try to comfort your worried child. There are many things you can do to help your child get through these fears and worries. Make sure to give your child time to adjust and get use to new places and people. When you are going somewhere new let your child stay close to you for comfort and if possible let your child adapt at their own pace. If you have to leave your baby, make sure that you set enough time to let them warm up to the new place or person before you leave. When you are having a get together with friends or family, try to have it at your house. This way your baby is at a place where they feel safe and secure. They will not have to adjust to the environment and people. Let others know that your child has baby separation anxiety. This way they know what to expect and will not get upset or try to approach a timid child too quickly.

Take the time to understand baby stranger anxiety so you can help your child cope with their fears and anxiety. In time your child will learn to adjust quickly and new things will not be as scary for them. Baby stranger anxiety is your childs first fear, so give them time to adapt and learn. Before you know it your child will be ready to go off on their own and explore and you will be the one wanting them to stay behind and cuddle.

Baby boomers suffering serious injuries chasing ‘bucket list’ dreams | UK | News

The idea of visiting breathtaking places and performing daredevil feats while you still can has grown in popularity in recent years.

But the thrills of skydiving and trekking through mountain ranges are luring creaking bodies towards serious injury and lengthy rehabilitation.

The perils of the bucket list have contributed to a huge rise in the number of 50 to 70-year-olds ending up in hospital, says leading injury lawyer Raquel Siganporia. “Back in the day, you would reach 50 and start looking towards retirement but it is the complete opposite now with people having a ‘let’s start living’ attitude after years of hard work,” she said.

“Many of them are financially well set up and embark on doing things they feel they might have missed out while working and raising a family. In their minds they are still young but their bodies aren’t and it is very difficult to bounce back from injury when you are older.”

The trend of older people getting injured from physical challenges or over-reaching themselves around the home has been termed the bucket list problem by charities, said Ms Siganporia, of solicitors Bolt Burdon Kemp, who is a trustee with the Spinal Injuries Association.

“They may want to achieve a better work-life balance and do activities they traditionally might have done when they were younger.

“It is known as the bucket list among people who work with spinal cord and head injuries.

“They are no longer spring chickens and already have wear and tear from ageing such as dodgy shoulders or arthritic knees which may make it more dangerous to do some of their bucket list and to recover from any injuries they get. The sad fact is that the body does not bounce back like it did when you were 18 to 30.”

In addition, youngsters appear to be getting more cautious. Figures from the Department of Transport have shown the number of drivers aged 17 to 24 involved in traffic accidents has dropped from 90,000 in 1990 to 30,000 in 2013.

Statistics also show a radical shift in the age profi le of spinal cord injuries. Some 41 per cent of them are now caused by falls, compared with 38 per cent from road traffic accidents.

“It used to be the other way round, but more people of an older age are now taking risks,” Ms Siganporia said.

“It’s only when something catastrophic happens that people realise how much harder it is to bounce back, not just physically but emotionally too.”

She added: “It is much harder to adjust to a spinal cord injury when you are older compared to younger when you have the time to readjust your life.”

North Yorkshire Police launched a campaign last year aimed at reducing the number of accidents among “born again bikers” who buy a motorbike to relive their youth.

It identified a huge rise in the number of over-40s who take to the roads in high-powered machines even though they may not have ridden a motorbike for 20 years.

The campaign was echoed in the Australian outback after police found more motorcyclists over 45 coming to grief on off-road trails. “I can see the attraction,” said a South Australia police spokesman.

“This is an amazing part of the world but it is vital that their plans include returning home safe to their loved ones.”

Ms Siganporia added: “It’s not about stopping people living their dreams but about being aware of the risks and the fact that your body may not bounce back as well as you think.”

Uncommon Knowledge: Baby boomers, you’re fired

Baby boomers, you’re fired!

In an experiment with management students in Texas, participants considered several scenarios: whether to hire a job applicant, whether to retrain an employee, and whether to discipline an employee who made an embarrassing joke. In all the scenarios, participants reacted more favorably when the scenario described an “older” person rather than a “baby boomer.”

Cox, C. et al., “The Baby Boomer Bias: The Negative Impact of Generational Labels on Older Workers,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology (forthcoming).

Take-charge guys

In several experiments, participants were made to believe they were part of an online mixed-gender work group in which someone else was chosen to be the leader based on a leadership questionnaire. The leader was programmed to disagree with the participant more often than not. Male participants were more likely to openly challenge the leader, whether male or female, even though both male and female participants didn’t differ in their private criticism. Both male and female participants showed more deference to male leaders.

Mize, T., “Doing Gender by Criticizing Leaders: Public and Private Displays of Status,” Social Problems (forthcoming).

A premium on partisanship

Obamacare premiums have increased significantly more in Republican-leaning counties, even controlling for deductibles, median income, demographics, and health. That’s because Republicans are more inclined to avoid Obamacare until they’re sick and need it — meaning that enrollees in Republican-leaning areas will be sicker and more expensive to cover. The premium difference became particularly acute after 2016, when insurers got more information on the potential cost of enrollees and cost-sharing rules were rolled back.

Trachtman, S., “The Political Geography of ACA Marketplaces: How Political Behavior Can Help Explain Where the ACA Works, and Where It Doesn’t,” University of California, Berkeley (December 2017).

Who’s undermining whom?

In several samples of workers, women reported experiencing more incivility from female than male coworkers, even controlling for other factors. Women with a more assertive masculine style were particularly likely to experience incivility, resulting in lower job satisfaction and a greater desire to quit.

Gabriel, A. et al., “Further Understanding Incivility in the Workplace: The Effects of Gender, Agency, and Communion,” Journal of Applied Psychology (forthcoming).

Like father, like son or daughter

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Michael A. Cohen tekes on the absurdities and hypocrisies of the current political moment.

Analyzing data on babies born to single mothers in the largest US cities, economists found that purported fathers who looked more like their babies spent about 2.5 more days per month parenting. Increased father involvement was, in turn, was associated with better baby health at one year, even though there had been no difference at birth. The effect was the same for both male and female babies.

Tracey, M. & Polachek, S., “If Looks Could Heal: Child Health and Paternal Investment,” Journal of Health Economics (forthcoming).

Kevin Lewis is an Ideas columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

Millennials and Baby Boomers have a lot in common

When it comes to Christmas, Millennials and Baby Boomers have one thing in common: they let women do all the work.

New research by Shop The City consortium, which includes Melbourne Central, Emporium, QV, The Strand and GPO, shows that among those born between 1981 and 1996, more women (92 per cent) were buying gifts, putting up the Christmas tree (84 per cent) and decorating the home (78 per cent). 

Conducted by market research company Bastion Latitude, the study analysed 1011 Millennials and their attitudes towards the festive season and how they liked to spend their money.

It showed, on average, Melburnians attend six parties to celebrate the season during November and December, spend up to $55 on outfits, $388 on gifts for others and $71 on gifts for themselves.

According to Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman, from November 15 to December 24 Victorians spent $12.7 billion in total sales.

Melbourne Central marketing manager Melissa Polglase said they commissioned the research because Millennials made up 70 per cent of their customers.          

“We just wanted to dig a bit deeper and see what the truth was behind the reputation that Millennials are fickle,” Ms Polglase said. 

“We asked them some fun questions: ‘how many times have you had smashed avocado this year?’ Sixty per cent said they haven’t had a smashed avocado this year.

“It was also surprising that one in 10 don’t spend Christmas with their family.”

Men were less likely to select “spending time with family” as the most enjoyable part of Christmas (36 per cent) compared to women (45 per cent). 

Men were also less enthused by Christmas than women, with one in three saying “Christmas is just another day”. 

The research also found that 62 per cent of Millennials were stressed about the cost of Christmas financially, while 26 per cent had to borrow money to fund the festive season, with food, gifts and alcohol listed as the most costly things in December.

Shopper Nicole Rodriquez said she spent just $150 on gifts and $200 on herself, but the 25-year-old said she would never be in debt for Christmas. 

Simon Bell, professor of marketing at the University of Melbourne, said Millennials were better at spending money on experiential opportunities like eating out at a restaurant.

“They don’t have much wealth … they have no savings and pretty flat income,” Professor Bell said. 

“Boomers are incredibly wealthy and so the notion of borrowing money is an anathema to them. They just dip into savings.

“Generation X have also been fairly fiscally conservative … so they have savings as well.”

Professor Bell said the Millennials were the most mobile generation than any before them, but retired or divorced parents were more to be blamed for the youngsters spending Christmas away from the family.

“It is likely that they’ll have lived or worked interstate or overseas, so distance from family is something that generations prior haven’t had to experience at this time,” he said.

“Given they are experience seekers, they are as likely to value a Christmas in Bali as they will one at home.

“The traditional kind of anchor of the family home is no longer there. With increased divorce rates, the poor old Millennials are squeezed: ‘do I go to see mum in Noosa or dad in Fremantle?'”

But, when it came to gender roles of men and women, Millennials hadn’t changed that much from their parents.  

“Social norms and high degree of socialisation around male and female roles in society … is reflected across generations,” Professor Bell said.

“It is easier due to strong social norms for the man to say, ‘nah, that’s not interesting to me’. [There is] social pressure for a woman to respond positively around family gift-giving, and gift purchases, food purchases.”