Older Americans -- so lucky to have their own month. And the merry month of May has been as hyped up as any: judging by the 4.6 million items that popped up with a Google Search ("Older Americans Month May 2010"). From a Presidential proclamation to an AoA standardized template for creating your own community version, we can rejoice that so much attention has been paid to encouraging us to honor those 60 and older to "Age Strong! Live Long!" But you heard me, 60 and older! On the one hand, it is a good thing every day to find a way to honor the frailest and most isolated -- not just for a month. But beginning at age 60?
...This life expectancy thing hasn't been internalized. Ya know, the average life expectancy of women is 80.2, for men it is 75.1 -- but that is average among a huge and varied population with a broad range of health status. It is lengthening every year and it is far longer for the college-educated, according to a new study published by Harvard researchers. In fact, the fastest growing age segment is 85+, double in 2010 what it was in 1990.
Stories, stories, everywhere. From Helen Small, who just got her Master's Degree at age 90, to the 81-year-old Marty Cooper, founder of the cell phone (watch him play tennis in this video clip!). So I'm betting that these two didn't think May was special because it is 'their' month, nor did their family members (Marty's wife is Arlene Harris, the founder of Jitterbug.) The AARP 'entry' age is now 50 and the baby boomer market segment begins at a hoppin' and skippin' 45+.
Fix the lingo, Luke. But isn't retirement little more than a marketing concept for financial planners, Social Security, and The Villages? Like Helen and Marty, we are due for both a refresh of language and a major refresh of proclamation content. Many folks don't see themselves as becoming 'older Americans' at 60, with as many years to go as just zipped by from age 30 to 60.
And for more thoughts on these and other imponderable topics, here are three May blog posts:
Let's get some structure to buying and selling enabling tech. Many of you who have heard me describe the market for tech that supports Aging in Place know that I describe it as analogous to eCommerce tech in 1999, then an emerging market of products that lacked interoperability, standard pricing, and well-understood buyer expectations. And so it goes today, but over the next few years, the aging in place technology market will mature and buyers will be better educated.
A call for integrators -- who test tech and install in a senior's home? This post received quite a bit of attention from, you guessed it, integrators. Particularly intereresting was a response from one integrator, Susan Estrada, who spelled out in precise detail what a dealer/integrator of products needs and expects.
Empower the user -- product design assumptions about senior tech tolerance. Another post that attracted emotional response and thoughtful commentary, not only on this website, but also on the AgeTek LinkedIn group discussion area. If you're not a member of that discussion, consider joining to learn more about what's happening and what folks think. And for that matter, if you are a vendor, consider joining AgeTek, which is enabling an AARP discount for the AARP National Event.
If you or your organization would like guidance in any of these areas, learn more about Aging in Place Technology Watch offers of retainer-based business services.
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Hope to see you here, there and at future conferences -- listed on the home page!
All the best!