A retirement survey offered by Merrill Lynch presents a picture of a more flexible retirement that baby boomers envision for themselves.

The “calling cards” of boomer retirement, according to Michael Falcon, chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch Retirement Group, are “living younger longer” and not planning a traditional retirement at age 65. Consequently, he says, boomers will not have to tap into retirement savings until much later in their lives.

Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., a gerontologist and author who helped with the survey, says understanding boomers is “not your typical linear calculation” of work and then permanently retiring. Rather, he says, boomers have transformed their time.

The boomer vision of retirement is captured in their response to what the next stage of their life will look like. A total of 42% say they will cycle between work and leisure; 17% say they will never work again; 16% will work part time; 13% plan to start their own business; 6% plan to work full time; and, 6% cited other options.

Fifty-six percent of those who see work in their “retirement” future, according to the survey, plan a different line of work. And, when asked to list what they viewed as important, 67% of respondents say they will work in order to keep mentally active. Keeping physically active was cited by 57% of respondents as a reason to continue working. Other reasons cited: 48%, to keep connected with others; 45%, health insurance benefits; 37%, to provide new challenges; 37%, for money; and 36%, to provide a sense of identity or self-worth.

Fear during the “next stage” of life was also addressed by the survey. The inability to afford health insurance led the list of boomer concerns with 53% of respondents; a major illness, with 48%; going to a nursing home, 48%; not having enough money, 46%; being bored, 23%; and dying, 17%.

The survey, conducted for Merrill by Harris Interactive, surveyed 3,448 baby boomers aged 40-58 in two samples, general and affluent. A total of 2,348 boomers were included in the general category. Boomers in the affluent category included 1,100 adults who have incomes of $100,000 or more or have assets of $500,000 or more.

Boomer calling card is ‘living younger longer’