Because I’m a journalist in addition being a speaker and consultant, I subscribe to news feeds, blogs and notifications related to my area of expertise: the stage of life between 50 and 110. And I am shocked by what I am reading.
Today I received several articles purporting to spot trends for seniors. These included lingerie for the incontinent, bladder monitoring devices, tableware for people with dementia, Parkinson’s pens and a book about the history of liquor advertisements.
I understand that as I’ve aged my drainage system has become less hydraulic and more gravity fed. And I have no doubt that each and every one of these products would be of great value to someone. Maybe even me some day. But what sets me off is that in the minds of these marketers, this demographic—my demographic–is associated with physical decline, limitations and Norman Rockwellian nostalgia.
My bladder is just fine, thank you. So’s my brain. I’m at my professional peak, fitter mentally and physically than I was in my 50s. So I’ve got to ask: Where are the products for those of us who still drive, shop, cook, travel, work, mentor and have ambitions to learn to line dance and surf, regardless of how old we are?
Part of the problem is that we don’t have a definitive word that properly describes us. I cringe at the word “senior.” It’s too broad. At 62, you qualify for Wednesday discounts at supermarkets and cheap film tickets, but why should you be lumped in the same category as a 92-year-old in a nursing home?
I’m struggling to come up with the right linguistic alternative. Retiree? No; retirement isn’t defined by age. Oldster? Yuck. Grandpa? Snotty. Young old? Silly. For now, we’re stuck with senior.
In addition to a better descriptor, we also need less oversimplistic marketing. I don’t think I can face another 30 years of adult diaper ads. Instead, give me ads for the Cornell Adult University Summer Program, encore.org’s Purpose Prize, and the Clark Art Institute’s latest exhibit. Those I’ll be very happy to click through.