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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder


Maybe I should have known that “OMG, I’m Turning 70” would burn up my Facebook and Twitter pages with tweets, “likes” and visits to my web site blog.

The comments were encouraging, funny, and flattering:

“Rock’on Sistah, you have many decades ahead of you.”

“Get over it. You lived turning 30.”

“You’ve got some stellar company.”

“70 is the new 50.”  (Now, have many times have we heard that one, adjusted for each decade?  “40 is the new 30.”  “50 is the new 40.”  And so it goes.  What the hell will we say when we’re approaching 100?  That 100 is the new 90?  I’m not sure how comforting that will be.)

And then there was: “You don’t look it.”

What does 70 look like, anyway?  If we buy into magazine and TV ads, seniors look like a bunch of old codgers with weathered skin, bald heads (the men, of course), and scowls the size of Texas.


And then there are the the seniors thankful for their new electric wheel chair or the chair that moves up and down a stair railing, making it unnecessary to do the unthinkable and walk up the stairs.

Oh, there are those ads in glossy magazines that feature attractive, smiling seniors on their happy way to retirement. They’re dripping with an ideal life that, frankly, is unattainable for many seniors.


But let’s see what the researchers have found.

According to market research from GlynnDevins, seniors generally see the portrayal of themselves as either “too good to be true” or “too bad to be true.”

On the “too good” side, words like well-dressed, affluent, perky, active and oh, so happy come to mind.

On the “too bad” side, words like feeble, sick, clueless, disabled, stupid, and prescription head the top of the list.

Here in America, aging seems to portend decreasing value as a human being.  “Old people today are generally not appreciated as experienced ‘elders’ or possessors of special wisdom; they are simply seen as sometimes remaining competent enough to be included in the unitary role category of ‘active citizen.’”

“Seniors are respected to the extent that they can behave like young people—to the extent that they remain capable of working, enjoying sex, exercising and taking care of themselves.”

Baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011.  As of last year, 76.4 million Boomers roamed the U.S.  And here are some facts:

  1. Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per capita basis.

  2. The 55+ age group controls more than three-fourths of America’s wealth.

  3. In 2012, Baby Boomers (47-65) spent 27 hours per week online, 2 hours more per week than Millennials.

  4. In 2011, baby boomers increased their usage of social media by 60%.

So, take that you advertisers and perpetuators of senior stereotypes.  Have a little respect for your elders.


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