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2010 press releases

Marketing to Boomers: Media part of the problem, key to the solution

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“It’s time to rebrand aging from ‘burden’ to ‘opportunity,’” declares active-aging expert

VANCOUVER-- As the 78 million Boomers start turning 65 in 2011, conventional ideas of what it means to be 65 are increasingly untrue. It once was thought that a 65-year old was a burden on the health care system and society. Today, many 65-year-olds are contributing to the success of society and enjoying good health. What’s more, Boomers and their parents have 2.1 trillion dollars1 in their pockets and were expected to spend 72 billion dollars2 in 2009 on products and services that claim to help them stay healthier, longer.

Yet, stereotypic portrayals of older adults persist—with the result that 71% of adults over age 55 feel advertising does not reflect their current lifestyle3 and are turned off by the marketing messages that target them today.

“The media has contributed to negative perceptions of aging by frequently showing scenarios such as ‘granny in the rocking chair’ and ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up—but not the other side of the picture,’” says Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (www.icaa.cc), a membership organization that brings together professionals in the independent and assisted living, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields to dispel society's myths about aging.

“We’re asking the media to use its power to help change those false perceptions by starting in the new year to portray older adults as vital, engaged, and independent,” Milner says. “While it’s true not everyone over age 65 is in good health, the same could be said of other demographics. It’s time to stop making false assumptions and perpetuating false expectations based on age alone.”

When it comes to the Boomer demographic, Milner suggests the following:

  • Instead of illness, think wellness.
  • Instead of anti-aging, think active aging.
  • Instead of decline, think potential.
  • Instead of “cared for,” think responsible and independent.
  • Instead of promoting ageist concepts, promote ageless concepts.

“Positive messages in the media can empower the many Boomers who, right now, are overturning stereotypes largely on their own. Getting the word out will help everyone focus not on ‘we’re nearing the end,’ but rather on ‘what’s next,’” Milner stresses. “By focusing on anti-aging, the media has contributed to the idea that aging is something wrong…to be feared…and to be treated with pills and potions. In fact, we’re all getting older from the day we’re born. That’s reality.”

Equally, true, for most people, turning 65 is not the start of the end; it’s the start of their next chapter. “At this point in history, the media has the opportunity to influence the future health of our nation by helping to create a positive and motivating social environment,” Milner says. “Research has found that thinking positively about getting older can extend one's life by 7.5 years--more than the longevity gained from low blood pressure or low cholesterol or by maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from smoking and exercising regularly.”4


About the International Council on Active Aging

The International Council on Active Aging® is the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry. ICAA supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging—an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness—and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia ministries of Health, and Healthy Living and Sport.

1. Met Life Mature Market Institute Met Life. Demographic Profile of American Baby Boomers
2. BCC Research. Antiaging Products and Services.
3. Datamonitor. Targeting Seniors Effectively.
4. Levy, et al. Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

For interviews please contact:

Contact: Colin Milner, CEO, ICAA
Toll-free: 1-866-335-9777 (North America)
Telephone: 604-734-4466; cell: 604-763-4595

Contact: Marilynn Larkin
Communications Director, ICAA

icaa 100 members