Wrinkled Wisdom – What? That Was An Old Wives’ Tale??

Eating bread crusts will make your hair curly. You could end up with a watermelon growing in your stomach if you eat the seeds. Most of us grew up hearing these old wives’ tales.

We want to be the generation that gives valuable guidance to the younger generation. So, we thought we would have some fun with old wives’ tales, myths, and outdated figments of someone’s imagination. How did we miss that? It’s not true? Who knew?

Cracking joints does not result in arthritis. We don’t care. Don’t do it. And, not because we suffer from misophonia—the hatred of sound.  It’s just irritating!! Get rid of those gas bubbles out of our earshot. 

Sad to say chocolate is not an aphrodisiac. Again, we don’t care. We will keep eating dark chocolate, justifying our intake on research linking it to cancer prevention and improved cognitive function. Just kidding. We crave it. Oh, and there could always be a placebo effect.

Feed a cold, starve a fever. Or was it, starve a cold and feed a fever? We never got this straight and eat when we feel like it, which is good. Because, whichever it is, it isn’t true.

Despite what our mothers said and despite what we told our children, you do not really lose heat through your head. This pearl of motherly wisdom is false. Wear a winter hat for style not health.

Yay! You can use expired medicines. In a study done for the Army, it was found most medicines last for at least five years and some can last as long as 15 years. Always good to have that leftover painkiller when you get a toothache over the weekend.

“An apple a day will keep the doctor away” cuts both ways. Eating lots of apples can lower the risk of some chronic diseases and cut down on the need for some prescription medicines. But, they aren’t a cure-all and can cause digestive issues. That seems to be a plus for the younger generation that apparently enjoys recording the sounds of expelling intestinal gas and posting it online. We’ll refrain from using the common term that rhymes with “darts.” 

You do not need to drink eight glasses of water a day. Whew! All that water equals lots of trips to the john. Doctors advise cutting back liquids two hours before going to sleep if you don’t want to stumble out of bed in the middle of the night. Alert!  Oldies sometimes don’t recognize thirst and we can get dehydrated more easily.

Okay, okay. Most of us wouldn’t sit on a public toilet without using a paper seat cover. Plop down on a public john crawling with who knows what without protection? Yuck! Whoops, wrong! Using a paper toilet seat cover doesn’t do much and we’re not likely to catch an infection from a toilet. For perspective, researchers say our cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Studies also show there are lots of germs on our handbags. Two more things we need to disinfect. Ugh.

How many times did your mom tell you when you were a kid that you couldn’t swim after eating? If you are still willing to show up in public wearing a bathing suit, rest assured you can have your lunch and jump in the pool, lake, or ocean. Maybe skip the wine.

“Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.”  Yes, we know it’s not true, but we still bend down and grab it. Habit! And, we’ve long heard that “terrible things come in threes” and know it’s a myth, but sometimes it sure feels true!

We think it’s time to retire the phrase old wives’ tales; it’s sexist. Maybe just refer to stuff as misconceptions. And, it’s ageist. If the younger generation paid more attention to what oldies really have to say today, their future would look brighter!

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Cover those public toilet seats if it makes you happy. Yes, still drink lots of water and eat lots of apples. Forget that hair of the dog morning cocktail; it will only delay that hangover. And, remember what your grandmom told you that is on target. Be smart. Be happy. Be kind. Shoulders back; chin up. And, remember, you won’t get anywhere without asking for it.

Wrinkled Wisdom: It Ain’t Easy Going Green

A newspaper headline recently blared that it ain’t easy going green. No kidding! Recycling sure ain’t easy. Know you are not alone if you often find yourself scratching your head about what goes in your recycle bin. Three out of four of us are confused. 

Okay, let’s see if we can help. Paper is easy. Books, magazines, and newspapers are recyclable. Oops! Shredded paper may not be recyclable in your area. Each ton of recycled paper is turned into new products, saving 17 trees. Yes! Cardboard boxes are a go, too. But, toss those tissues, napkins, and paper towels in the trash if you don’t compost. Just learned that’s because they contain fibers too short to be made into new paper. Good trivia question!

The American Forest and Paper Association hit the media before the February Super Bowl, urging people to recycle pizza boxes. People watching the game at home ordered over 12.5 million pizzas. Yikes! That’s a lot of cardboard to be transformed into new products. Not to mention the calories! There has been mixed messaging on this because of the grease, but mills overwhelmingly say yes…yes we accept pizza boxes.

Okay, recycling aluminum and tin cans, plastic bottles, jars, and glass bottles is a gimme. But, we didn’t know that you shouldn’t smash your soda can or recyclable containers. The machines will get confused since they separate based on dimensions.

Yes, we all agree that the recycling process can be stinky, but we mean that figuratively, not literally! If your bin is stinky, you flunk recycling, literally. You’ve got to make sure containers are free of food. You’re supposed to rinse out that leftover soup and those brownie bits. So, here’s the dilemma. In Colorado, we are hurting for water. Guess you could start by licking up the residue. But, how about this?? Clean out the container with your dinner napkin. A two-fer!

Lids are really tricky. If your yogurt container has a foil top, toss the foil in the trash. If a container is plastic and the lid is as well, keep the lid attached. Think juice bottles and those ubiquitous prescription meds. Glass container and metal lid?  Remove the lid and put both in the recycle bin.

Wow, we’ve really been screwing up. We knew ice cream containers couldn’t be recycled, but didn’t know you can’t recycle frozen dinner boxes. Heck, frozen dinners have been our go-to during the pandemic as we tired of cooking and sought immediate gratification. Sorry!!!

Bad news for junk food lovers. Potato chip, Cheetos, popcorn, and other snack packaging are not recyclable. That bag is often made of aluminum or a special mixed plastic to keep the junk food fresh. This includes the wrappers inside cracker boxes. Hmmm…better munch on Cheez-Its or peanut butter Bits. Their recycle info is actually clearly printed and readable. Wow! Recycle the box and drop off the inside plastic bag at the grocery store. Helps minimize guilt for craving that yummy, fattening stuff.

Another eye-opener is what can be recycled at the grocery store. Thought it was only plastic grocery bags. No. It’s way more. Ziploc-type bag. Bread bags. Plastic liners from cereal boxes. Produce bags. Dry cleaning bags minus the stapled receipts. Newspaper delivery bags. Even bubble wrap if you are willing to pop all the bubbles. Maybe pop those bubbles with passion while watching the news about Ukraine rather than shouting obscenities at the TV. If you are gritting your teeth worried about whether to toss some plastic in with the stuff going to the grocery store, do the crinkle test. Crush the questionable wrap in your hand. If it bounces back into shape after you scrunch it or makes a crunchy sound, in the trash it goes. When in doubt, throw it out.

Check and see if your trash company’s website has a search section so you can type in a tricky item and get info on whether it’s recyclable. We all sure need the help.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Shop products made from recycled plastic. There’s an amazing variety of stuff. Increasing demand will motivate companies to make more stuff out of our recycled junk. If you really want to freak out, google microplastics—the tiny particles formed by the breakdown of plastic products. We are breathing, drinking, and eating them. Even in beer! Hopefully, not scotch! If things don’t change, we could end up in a recycle bin. Pull out the old Tupperware; ditch the plastic wrap and aluminum foil. And put your glasses on when looking for that damn, tiny recycling symbol!  Oh, and our favorite, clever message is on Coke cans: Recycle me…see you again soon. 

Wrinkled Wisdom – The Advertising Industry Has a Problem

We hate ads. We’re not alone. People of all ages hate ads. Companies worldwide spend more than $300 billion annually on advertising that over 90 percent of us pretty much ignore! People also complain that ads today are more intrusive. No kidding. We’re bombarded on television, Facebook, YouTube, apps, games, and even old fashioned billboards.

We will admit to enjoying some humor in ads and those featuring “our” music. Loved learning that most ads for wristwatches have them set to 10:10. That way, the hands frame the brand name and create a smiley face.

And, yes, we do raise our heads and look at the TV when commercials feature classic rock. California Raisins once used Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Carnival Cruises once used Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea. But, Geico made a blooper using the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider to promote its motorcycle insurance. Duane Allman and the band’s bassist were both killed in motorcycle accidents. Oops!

We are especially ticked by the ageism that is alive and well in advertising. What’s the key to marketing to us?  Use some common sense. Don’t call us old in the ad. We also aren’t excited about being called seniors citizens, elders, or even boomers. Okay, got to admit those terms are better than the days when people our age were labeled geezers, codgers, duffers, and old farts.   

A recent focus group came up with calling us advisers, coaches, wise ones, masters, experienced, and seasoned citizens. Huh?? Seasoned? What are we, food?

The view of the human race would be distorted if it were based on primetime advertising alone. You barely see older people. Only about five percent of U.S. advertising focuses on people over 50. Fifty! Apparently, we don’t exist… except for Depend diapers and ads for drugs that reportedly improve memory.

Yet, in a study polling people of all ages asking when you’re too old to do things like go back to school, start your own business, or date romantically, an overwhelming majority answered that you’re never too old. So there. Quit focusing on age as an indicator of consumer habits.

America does have an obsession with youth so most marketers focus on millennials and Gen Zers. Not smart! Not only do they not have the big bucks; apparently, they are not very loyal to products and services. Ageism in ads could be the consequence of the average age of employees in the advertising industry…34.  Hey, run some of your ideas past mom and dad!

Ignore us at your own peril! There are lots of us and we’ve got money! Respect “seasoned” citizens!

Eureka!  How about ads that focus on our actual needs and lifestyles instead of our age? This would increase the ad’s appeal to all potential buyers. Heck, we eat in and dine out. We drink alcohol. We wear clothes and wash them. We take care of our lawns. We update our homes. We use hair products and lotions. We exercise. We own computers and cell phones. How else would we communicate with the younger relatives? And, we buy lots of stuff at the pharmacy like everyone else for the sniffles and headaches, in addition to the Rogaine for our thinning hair.

Laughing over a number of news articles recently talking about Facebook and Google banning ads for sexual wellness products aimed at people over 50. Are their employees aghast that “seasoned” citizens are having sex?? Read the stats, millennials. ED can hit at any age!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Social media gives us a voice to criticize condescending and stereotypical ads. Let ‘em have it on Facebook. Boycott brands whose ads tick you off. Don’t underestimate our clout! Yelling obscenities at the TV doesn’t do a thing, but sure makes us feel better. Smile when you see age-appropriate actors pushing products. Otherwise, hit the mute button and tackle a crossword puzzle till the show comes back on. Oh, and, could we dump the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad? It’s been on and off TV for 33 years. How about, um, I ate too many edibles and can’t get off the couch!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Did You Know?

We hope you will smile and laugh at some fun facts we’ve uncovered as we continue to ignore the news.  Smiling and laughing trigger the release of endorphins, making us feel happy.  But, oh, dear, they also cause wrinkles, which are, of course, emphasized as we age.  Crap.  Botox??

While feeling a bit guilty about deepening those wrinkles, we are going to share these tidbits with you.  Enjoy!  Smiling and laughing are optional.

Did you know that Purina has launched a line of pet food that uses bugs?  Well, specifically the food includes black soldier fly larvae and plant protein.  They are promoting it as a way to better use the planet’s resources.  Bugs are a great protein source and our pets have no mental hang-ups about eating them. 

Heck, that should come as no surprise.  Remember, people eat bugs too!  The selection on Amazon is mind-boggling.  Crickets, ants, and even beetle larva, can be found, covered in rich, dark chocolate.  Something called EntoMilk is used in some ice creams.  It’s made from the larvae of that popular black soldier fly.  But, let’s talk ants.  Did you know that all the ants on the Earth once weighed as much as all the humans?   No longer, as one expert points out, “We’re not just increasing in population, we’re increasing in fatness, so I think we’ve left the ants behind.” 

Speaking of fat, the Washington Post has published its Annual Neologism Contest winners, who offer entertaining alternative meanings for common words.  Our favorites?  Flabbergasted: appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.  Abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

And, don’t forget that the majority of the brain (60%) is fat!  That explains so much.

We were very surprised to learn that Competitive Art was once an Olympics competition.  Painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians battled for the gold, silver, and bronze.   After the Olympics were put on hold during World War II, the new IOC president insisted that the Olympics be absolutely pure.  He believed that winning an Olympic medal for Competitive Art was an advertisement for the artists’ work and made them more money on their sales.  Another victim of war.

Oh, my God!  That was our reaction to learning that the ubiquitous text abbreviation OMG is more than 100 years old.   A British Naval admiral included it in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill.  What is old is new!  Recycling at its best. 

Air fresheners, perfumes, and aftershaves can cause allergic reactions in cats.  Makes sense.  They have a keener sense of smell for survival.  We know how they feel.  Ever been in an elevator with a heavily-fragranced individual??   Thank heavens, we don’t react like some cats and vomit or have diarrhea.  Even our Covid masks don’t help.  When it comes to fragrances, less is more!

Pope Francis worked as a nightclub bouncer in his hometown in Argentina to support himself when he was a student.  Not sure what implications to draw from this!

Historians guess that Genghis Kahn’s conquests killed around 40 million people.  Yet, one in every 200 men today is descended from this murderous Mongolian.  Huh?  Scary?

Before mercury, brandy was used to fill thermometers.  What a waste of good alcohol! 

Hot water freezes faster than cold water. We knew that but forgot.  Because, who cares?

The first McDonald’s drive-thru was created in one of its restaurants in Arizona, located near a military installation.   Military rules at the time forbade soldiers from wearing their uniforms in public.  The manager had a hole cut in the restaurant’s wall so military members could pick up their Big Mac and fries without stepping out of their cars.  Thank you for your service!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Amuse yourself with interesting facts.  Get with the program; eat bugs and help save the planet.  Suggest to your young relatives that they get an ancestry DNA test for their fiancé before marrying the guy.  And, know when you think someone is a fathead, you are right.  OMG!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Random Thoughts

Random Thoughs

We had toyed with the idea of writing a selection titled: Ten Top Reasons We’re Glad It Is Not 2020 Anymore….a cumbersome title and a blatant play on David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists.  (So fun not to have to explain who Letterman is to our readers.)  We also had a humorous Top Ten Reasons to Keep Some Masks idea, another cumbersome title.  However, things have not progressed as we had hope, so we nixed both ideas.  Consequently, we are left with… random thoughts.

Wow.  Disruptions in the supply chain are really screwing things up and driving up prices!  Costco is again limiting purchases of some items.  The issue isn’t panic buying.  They just can’t get the products to their stores. Thankfully, it’s not as bad as last year when everyone was hoarding.  Example?  Someone’s mega-package of toilet paper was strewn on the street recently and no one stopped to pick up the rolls!

Speaking of disruptions, if you need to schedule any medical appointments, do it now.  One specialist we called is now taking appointments in March.  March????

As more people are posting on various media, it’s driving up our blood pressure as we are constantly struck by poor grammar and spelling.  Sure, we all make mistakes, but we do know how to use an apostrophe!!!  And, please, there is the correct usage of “regard” versus “regards.” 

Mercedes once ran an ad bragging…More power.  More style.  More technology.  Less doors.  Less doors?  Wait, doors can be counted so, using proper grammar, the ad should have boasted fewer doors.  Some claim that companies use bad grammar to sell their products or services, arguing that it grabs people’s attention causing them to stop and focus on the message.  Nope.  Not buying that.  Just some ad writer’s clever response when caught screwing up.

Viruses constantly change through mutation.  So, we are lobbying for use of the word “mutant” over “variant” to describe the new forms of Covid.  Mutant sounds more negative to us, while variant seems more benign…like abnormal or different.  And, we are sure feeling negative about the Delta mutant taking us backwards.  

Regeneron is available to those over 65, so a positive for oldies who are suffering from breakthrough Covid cases.  Got to look for the positives these days!

Cooking has lost its appeal.  Thank goodness for microwaves and toaster ovens…and delivery!

We are noticing an increase in roadside litter.  Yes, people are back in their cars and going places, but has the pandemic made us less thoughtful about the environment???  “Leave no trace” should be honored everywhere.  Google its principles not the movie.  

We’ve noted that some do not do solitary very well; no wonder it is used as a penal punishment. 

Some people feel masks limit interpersonal communication.  There is truth to that.  Masks muffle sounds and cover facial expressions.  However, after more than a year of this mess, we’ve learned to better read body language, eyebrows, eyes, and upper cheeks, which are keys to understanding the big picture.  Listen for those audible signs of frustration.  Watch for that twinkle in happy eyes.  

The pandemic has spurred gambling from anywhere, any time, and on anything!  Even we can name multiple betting sites available to us on our phones.  And the initial no loss come-ons are way too inviting.  We don’t even understand half the betting terms, and we have limited to no knowledge about some sports.  Arm Wrestling and Rock Paper Scissors Championships! Really?

We’ve watched our screen time increase each week.  Gee…could it be killing time with online games?   Okay, maybe not Minecraft or Fortnight, but solitaire, poker, bridge, Words with Friends, or Candy Kush?  Not telling.

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Continue to wear those darn masks to protect yourself and others from the RISE of the MUTANTS.  Hmmm…in addition to storing personal protective equipment for the next pandemic, maybe the government should offer free American Sign Language classes so we can better communicate when masked?  Beware of online gambling!  Even if you know the terms parlay, bad beat, and vig, you can still lose your shirt.  Consider supply issues and shipping times when planning to cook or bake.  The strawberry jam bundt cake is on hold because the strawberry extract is weeks late.  We’re not advocating hoarding…but.  

Oldies and the #MeToo Movement

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Has it really been just months since the Harvey Weinstein allegations hit the news? Since then, prominent men have been dropping like flies, losing their jobs as scores of women report aggressive sexual harassment and coercion in the workplace. Even our non-famous male friends and once co-workers are seriously rethinking how they behaved toward women throughout their careers.

The #MeToo movement has gone international, kept this important issue in the news, and birthed a new movement, Time’s Up.  Hollywood celebrities founded the group to promote equality and safety in the workplace for all women and raised millions for its legal defense fund.

We oldies feel that this can be THE watershed moment. Women are speaking up like never before. Let’s not let this moment go by. Let’s solve this problem…now.

We joined the workforce with birth control pills in our medicine cabinet. The pill became the symbol of the sexual revolution and liberation. We read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, which urged us to choose to be more than a housewife and participate in and enjoy sex.

The 1970s brought the Civil Rights movement, women’s liberation movement leaders like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and Helen Reddy singing “I am woman; hear me roar.” We attended marches and protests for equal rights in the workforce. We thought we had made a difference. We thought we had “come a long way, baby.” Not far enough, obviously!

Yes, as young, working females, we were subject to sexual advances. We crossed our legs away from the male who put his hand on our thigh during a working lunch clearly indicating we weren’t interested. We put an end to unwanted flirting quickly and unambiguously. We dealt with it. We quit jobs when the boss was a jerk and told our friends not to apply. Today, we’d go to the Board of Directors and get him fired.

Interestingly, some are saying that the #MeToo movement has uncovered a rift between baby boomers—those of us who lived through the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s—and younger women of later generations. Rift? Hardly. A different perspective? Of course.

One area where we oldies appear to have a differing perspective is that we see a spectrum of sexual misconduct ranging from mildly offensive to egregious.

Many infractions do not come close to those of Dr. Nassar or Weinstein, or chronic abusers such as Ailes, Rose, and Lauer. Or wife beaters. That said, a man telling a woman she looks good is not the same as exposing his genitals. An unwanted hug is not the same as coercing a woman to have sex. Noting that someone looks tired is not body-shaming.

We want everyone to be smart, careful, and use common sense. Think twice about meeting in a hotel room. Clearly state what you want and don’t want. Say “stop” or “no” definitively. Sadly, research shows that 68 percent of millennials actively avoid face-to-face conversations. Young people apparently don’t know how to talk to one another. They could try this: step back and text “NO” in caps.

Let’s help our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and others. Let’s strongly support everyone who has suffered. Let’s advocate for inclusive, rational discussions among men, women, and LGBTQ. Let’s lobby for legislation that penalizes companies that tolerate cultures of harassment and against the use of the nondisclosure agreements that have helped silence victims of abuse. Together, let’s create dramatic, lasting social change.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today: Till all this is ironed out, we suggest a sports approach in both work and social situations since sports is a universal “language.” If someone does something improper or inappropriate, simply make a time-out sign with your hands. Use this hand signal as a teachable moment; and, hopefully, an entrée to or—to continue our sports analogy—the kickoff of a meaningful conversation. And, remember that American football has an illegal touching penalty. One could simply call “foul,” which would definitely be better than yelling—I’m calling a lawyer! Have another idea? We say go for it and let us know how it works out.

 

About That Bucket List

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A drop in the bucket, slime bucket, sweat buckets, come down in buckets, kick the bucket….and finally, wait for it: bucket list.

Bucket idioms have been around for centuries, and now it’s the bucket list that is all the rage—for all ages, not just seniors.  Bucket lists are ubiquitous.  So, if you need inspiration, just check out the list of 10,000 things to do before you die.  Lists have been concocted for visiting foreign countries and big cities, for particular seasons, and even for cooking new recipes.  Google at will.

The term appears to have originated with, or at least been popularized by, the 2007 movie The Bucket List, which starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

Wow, who knew that 90 percent of people over-55 have already created a bucket list?  That’s what surveys say.  Okay, most of us oldies have an idea of some things we might want to do before kicking the bucket, but are those ideas realistic?  Let’s take a look at some common online ideas.

Defying gravity seems to be very popular.  Our movie stars, Morgan and Jack, had skydiving on their bucket list.  However, they also had stunt men.  We were very impressed that the first President Bush parachuted to celebrate his 90th birthday.  But, he’s a longtime skydiving fanatic.  If skydiving or other feet-off-the-ground adventures like parachuting, paragliding, or parasailing make your list, we suggest a tandem jump with a professional as Bush did.  We also suggest you update your will and have your life insurance paid up.

A hot air balloon ride makes many lists and seems to us a reasonable way to get high without… well…getting high.

A tattoo?  Nope. That ship has sailed for us oldies.  Sagging skin is not the best canvas for tattoo art.  Just get a temporary one.

Of course, traveling the world and eating exotic foods is popular limited only by bad backs, knees, and hips; planter fasciitis; and medical issues…such as GERD.  You get the idea.

Many bucket lists tout running a marathon, learning a new language, writing a book, or taking music lessons.  Really?  And, you have waited until now because?

Conquering a fear lands on many lists.  And, there are such creative names for these phobias.  Fear of spiders—arachnophobia.  Claustrophobia—fear of small, confined spaces.  Fear of heights—acrophobia.  Fear of rats plays a huge part in the novel 1984.  Even that phobia has a name—musophobia. We prefer to think of bucket list items as fun and adventurous objectives.  We are happy to die with some fears.

Scuba diving sounds exciting; but, sadly, we’ve pretty much missed the Great Barrier Reef, which is fading fast.  And…questions: are you willing to don a bathing suit?  Can you swim?  Are you willing to come face to face with sharks, giant squids, electric eels, and flesh-eating bacteria?

Going on a cruise is quite doable but potentially fattening.  Prolific food and drink.  But, beware of Legionnairesdisease and leaning too far over the railing if you’ve had a few or irritated your partner.

A new study reports that, on average, oldies are willing to spend about $13,000 on their bucket lists.  Looking at lists online, we don’t think that would cover visiting all seven continents, highlighted by an elephant ride in Thailand.  But, you could visit all 50 states, see the Northern Lights, learn to crack an egg with one hand, swim with a dolphin (in a wetsuit, please), go on a whale watching tour, or plan for the next total eclipse…all popular choices.

Pity our kids.  With life expectancy rising each year, they could be working forever.  Heck, one in 10 oldies now say they will have to work until they are over 71.  Expect future bucket lists to include…retirement!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Creating bucket lists can be fun, but maybe start waaay before you might actually kick the bucket.  Hear that young people?  And, think realistically.  Heck, there is always virtual reality and you don’t even need to get out of bed.  Give it a Google.  And, since some degree of memory loss is a fairly common part of aging, be sure your bucket list is on your smartphone, lest you forget.

Old Is the New New

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No, we aren’t talking about consignment shops. We’re talking about the changing face of America.

The world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.  There are now over 72 million boomers and another 50-odd million people who belong to the “silent” generation.  And, our growth is outpacing every other demographic group.  In fact, by 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.  A virtual tsunami of oldies!

Old is the new new!  That should earn us a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  With this reference, we are broadening the feminist theme of Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit.

Interestingly, speaking of respect, did you know we have our own government agency?  It’s called the National Institute on Aging (NIA).  It’s part of the National Institute of Health, which we all know as NIH, and is charged with studying aging and extending our healthy, active years of life.  Alzheimer’s disease is an important focus.  Oh, and testosterone therapy.

There is power in numbers.  Money talks.   Ah, sometimes adages and their general truths are apropos if a bit overused.  As a group, we oldies have tremendous economic clout.  Seniors control nearly a third of total U.S. net wealth.  Advertisers need to catch on!

And, marketers are wising up…albeit…slowly.  They are recognizing that we spend and it’s not just on cruises, medical alert systems, senior living facilities, and Depends.  Research underscores that we are significant buyers of cars and Apple products.   Hence the recent AARP headline:  Automakers Rediscover and Create for Boomers.

How propitious that self-driving cars are being developed just as we are aging!  How very thoughtful.  And, another fun headline: Self-driving Vehicles and Baby Boomers: A Budding Relationship.

Yet, advertisers have a long, long way to go.  Today, less than five percent of advertising targets the baby boomer market.  Most advertising dollars are spent catering to 18 to 34 year-olds.  Forbes magazine calls us the most neglected, wealthy group in the history of marketing.

And, important to advertisers, we Google.  We check our e-mail on our smartphones. We order stuff online.  We use social media.  We have Facebook pages.  We check out YouTube.  In fact, baby boomers describe themselves as heavy Internet users. The average broadcast media viewer is now over 50, which is really a profound change that will greatly impact television advertising.

Marketers, do the math!  Get over gerontophobia.  And, learn to talk to us in a way that reflects some reality.

And, wow, do they have a lot to learn.  Most seniors don’t like the advertising aimed at them.  It isn’t realistic or respectful, according to polls.  It’s stereotypic.  We want ads that capture our attention, entertain us, inform us, and respect us.

Okay, we all don’t look like Jane Fonda at 79.  Who can afford that much cosmetic surgery?  However, we do enjoy a beautiful oldie being featured in ads for L’Oreal skin cream aimed at women of all ages.  One of our favorites is an ad for Aldi, a German discount grocery chain with stores in the U.S.  It features an older woman, who, after pointing out the teas she buys for her husband, shares with the viewing audience: “I don’t like tea.  I like gin.”

As marketing changes and matures (is that a pun?), we hope to see an end to articles and discussions about ageism being the last politically correct prejudice.  We understand that mockery of older people masks fears of growing old.  We’re guilty.  Remember when we were in our 20s and dissed 30-year olds as over the hill?  Maybe that’s already changing.  A recent study shows that the younger generation’s greatest fear is their phone batteries running low.  We could create a fun analogy about aging, but won’t.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Lift a glass.  Make a toast.  We’re not invisible anymore!  Give to the National Institute for Aging.  Yes, it’s a federal agency, but Congress made an exception and it can accept donations.  And, it’s OUR federal agency.  If an Aldi store comes to your area, shop there.  The management obviously has a great sense of humor.  When advertisements feature seniors in a fun and respectful manner, buy the product— after you Google the reviews, of course.