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Counting centenarians -- and other conundrums

So baby boomers and seniors AREN'T buying the iPad right now.   You probably thought this post was about centenarians. which it is, but first, to clear up a bit of confusion, even though the iPad might be a zero-learning-curve tool for seniors, even though the iPad is winning over an unspecified number of elderly in Japan, let's be clear on the iPad buyer in the US. According to Nielsen Wire, only 15% of the iPad buyers are over the age of 56. So let's not get too excited about it right now as an aging-in-THIS place technology. I plan to stop writing about it for at least a few weeks.

Next up in the confusion corner, boomers and seniors.  This one is to unconfuse myself and prepare for 2011, but from conversations, I think others may be perplexed. So baby boomers are a 'generation' born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest today is 64.  In January, the oldest baby boomers turn 65 and baby boomers will continue to do so at a rate of 10,000 per day. On the day they turn 65, they are demographically seniors. Why? First of all, the 65+ population is a demographic that is associated with access to Medicare, full Social Security, full pensions where they exist, retirement (when it is feasible and desirable) and a host of other issues and entitlements that are of less concern to those under age 65.  Second, we know that marketers and survey organizations lump them into a single 65+ segment. This doesn't mean that the baby boomer population will begin to shrink (that's the generational thing) -- it means that the concerns of the baby boomer population will increasingly overlap with the concerns of the 65+ population known as senior -- and that will be how the market views them.

Centenarians -- how many, who is counting? A delightful news story about America's Oldest Worker (101) was published this past week -- with her advice about how succeed for so long. This reminded me of the news article in July reporting that the US leads the world in centenarians based on US Census data - 114,000, followed by Japan. But then this week's gut-wrencher from Japan which is creating a daily news firestorm there: 281 of the oldest old are actually gone -- and may have died or disappeared years ago, but were not reported, in some cases to retain access to government pensions. Dead for decades, in one case mummified.  Let's look at the US 114,000 again. Who will verifiy that they really are still alive? How easy is it here to keep social security checks and other checks coming unless a person's death is reported? If 281 are lost in Japan, how many are 'lost' or 'gone' in the US. It makes you sick to think about it.



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Your second paragraph about the difference between boomers and seniors is a huge area of confusion. We struggle with this daily in our business but have adopted the NAHB/AARP Aging in Place descriptions:
- individuals who are not experiencing health issues realated to aging
- individuals who have a progressive or other condition that requires modifications or equipment
- individuals who are dealing with an abrupt or traumatic health-related change.

We overlay these with your four technology categories:
- Communication and engagement
- Home safety and security
- Health and awareness
- Learning and contribution

Then, it becomes pretty clear which products work for which segment.

I don't care how many iPads are sold to seniors, but I do care how many seniors are buying iPads. Do you have the market information from that perspective? In general, are seniors following the trend to mobile devices, or are they still on the desktop if they're online at all?