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The Business of Aging: Aging & Innovation in Other Cultures

This week The Business of Aging kicks off an amazing series of articles from all over the world, curated by the very talented Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Ph.D. of Parsons School of Design. Join us each week as we highlight innovation from: Israel by Paula Adelman; Singapore by Ani Gregorian; Mumbai  by Ushma Mody; and Havana by Steve Minkin.

Edited by Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld, Ph.D.  Parsons School of Design, New York, NY

Overview:  It’s A Small World

Back in 1964, when I was still in my teens, I visited the World’s Fair, which was held that year in New York’s Flushing Meadows Park.  I’ll never forget my ride through the Disney Pavilion, on a journey celebrating the idea that “It’s A Small World After All.”

Visitors to the Disney Pavilion embarked on a magical journey to more than 75 nations. Visitors sat four-across in gondolas which each held about 40 people. Together we floated across Disney’s small world, serenaded by a farrago of singing, dancing  (robotic) children. Every nation was represented by children in national garb, who were merrily singing  “It’s A Small World After All,” in each of their native languages.

At the time, it had not dawned on me — and probably on most of the other people in our gondola — that those same nations could just as easily be represented by a chorus of costumed Seniors. Was this ageism, back in 1964?

In all fairness, this was a Disney production; and most of the world’s population was still under the age of 20.  It’s no wonder that back in 1964, most of us took it for granted that youth was the common experience that made it a small world after all. The social and demographic fact is that aging had not yet taken center stage.

its-a-small-world-disneyland

Inside The Disney Pavilion, It’s A Small World,  1964-1965 World’s Fair

More than 50 years later, the Disney lyric still rings true:  It is still very much a small world.  But it’s now a world which is  “Small” for different reasons. Today, ours is a world knit-together by two Master Trends that are compressing and unifying our social, technological and economic space. These are The  Silver Tsunami, and Globalization.

 

The Silver Tsunami, and Globalization:  Unifying and Compressing The World

It is familiar that the world’s population is now shaped more like a rectangle than a youth-heavy pyramid.  And now, more than ever before, the most influential ideas, technologies, products, and services for Seniors have gone global.  They flow worldwide, sometimes in a matter of hours. I am reminded, for example, of a Korean client of mine, living not far from Flushing Meadows Park, whose family was looking at ALF’s in Queens.  I recall that before they finally settled on one, they forwarded the information to Seoul, so that their Korean advisor could give them feedback.  They arrived at a decision within minutes of receiving his email from Seoul.  The most intimate and local of decisions had been shaped by our global connections.

What better place to celebrate this confluence of Aging and Globalization, than a publication like The Business of Aging?  This is a journal whose time has come.  It’s the voice of an economic sector that continues to be stimulated by The Age Wave, and energized by globalization.

What better way to acknowledge globalization than with a series called Learning from Other Cultures?

A Small World Then, and Now

The symbol of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair was the Unisphere.  Even the name underscored that this was one world, and a small one after all.  A glance at Figure 2 confirms that the Unisphere celebrated a world without national or political boundaries. The Unisphere was intentionally designed to make that very point.

unisphere_in_summer

 

There are no national or political boundaries on the Unisphere: 1964-1965 World’s Fair

Although it was created for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, the Unisphere anticipated the impact of the Master-Trends being celebrated here,  more than 50 years later:  The power of the Silver Tsunami, and the emergence of global markets.  It is still a small world, but for very different demographic, economic, and social reasons.

Our 21st-Century Unisphere celebrates a world in which national and political boundaries are being eclipsed and reshaped by global forces.

Among the most significant of them are:

  • Rapid diffusion of ideas from West to East; and vice-versa;
  • “Floating Populations” which cross borders and boundaries permanently, seasonally, and                  voluntarily;
  • Educational exchanges, “Distant Learning,” and worldwide opportunities to study abroad;
  • The worldwide web, the now ubiquitous http://www , which turns 25 this year.
  • The acceptance of non-Western paradigms, such as Acupuncture, in Western medicine, and germ-theory in non-Western healing.

Together, these forces mean that ideas, innovations and products created in one corner of the world, can be available and accessible everywhere. This series, which is called Learning From Other Cultures,will be reporting on products, services and technologies which are very much a product of these global forces, and which promise to transform the lives and social worlds of older people.

For example, two of the future  installments in this series will focus, respectively, on a Senior-focused food-supplement from Singapore, and a Senior-Friendly mobile phone from India.  They, along with innovations described in other installments of the series, are part and parcel of a global economy built upon the needs and desires of older people.

Learning From Other Cultures will be an ongoing series.  It will showcase the business of aging as it transforms people and cultures worldwide.

Coming installments will celebrate:

  • The Total Lift Bed-Chair, a therapeutic device from Israel, which actually rotates 180-degrees and helps patients to sit-up, without getting out of bed; reported from Israel by Paula Adelman;
  • Health Food Matters, A line of food supplements from Singapore, which offer tasty new options for people who are restricted to easily swallowed and digested foods.  Believe it or not, the product-line even includes vitamin-packed sprinkles; reported from Singapore by Ani Gregorian;
  • A Senior-Friendly mobile-phone from Mumbai, which permits automatic dialing based on the photos of people listed in the phone’s Directory (Ideal for people who easily forget names and phone numbers); reported from Mumbai  by Ushma Mody;
  •  An overview of Cuba’s Casas Abuelos, or Grandparents Homes, which offer the best of Senior Day-Care and Assisted Living; reported from Havana by Steve  Minkin; and
  • A discussion of worldwide developments in the design of products and services for Seniors; reported by Jeff Rosenfeld.

Waiting in the wings, and still in development, are articles on The Business of Aging in Athens, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires.  It is still a small world after all.

Four Ways Your Wrong About Boomers

I am very proud to have received this great review from the National Association of Realtors for my book, The Grandparent Economy: How Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap. Following is the blog:

It seems everywhere you turn these days there’s some new diatribe against the generational focus of commentaries on society. It’s boomers attacking millennials attacking boomers… Heck, we even played an April Fool’s joke based on the trend a couple of weeks ago.

As someone who’s always bristled at generational stereotypes, I’m cheering those who are finally agreeing we need to stop playing the millennials vs. boomers card in the media (as no one talks about generation x anymore, that needn’t be halted of course). But as I was working on the upcoming feature for our May/June issue about how brokers are attracting the next generation of real estate pros, I found myself unable to avoid the term “millennial.”

Is your image of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

Are your ideas of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

That’s when I realized it has nothing to do with the terms; it’s the inaccurate stereotypes everyone should be finished with. And that’s why I really liked Lori K. Bitter’s The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc., 2015). Not only is she seeking to help business owners and marketers better understand the boomer generation through the lens of grandparenthood using actual data, but she also busts a fair amount myths about boomers and grandparents in the process. Among them:

  1. Age and aversion to technology: Bitter says if you do an image search on grandparents in Google you’ll likely see “cartoon caricatures of couples with gray buns, sagging bellies and boobs, and canes… In reality, only 20 percent of grandparents are 75 or older.” She also points out that grandparents not only outspend other generations in traditional shopping environments, but they also “are outspending younger consumers two to one online… and they account for one in four mobile transactions.”
  2. Multi-gen housing as a temporary reaction to recession. Bitter, who was raised by her grandparents, points out that humans have been living with several generations under one roof since the beginning of civilization, and in many cultures around the world, it’s more common than it currently is in the United States. But as we become increasingly multicultural, it’s important to examine our biases and look at the facts: 2.7 million grandparents are raising small children on their own, and that doesn’t encompass the many who are sharing the task of raising children with the kids’ biological parents. She also points out that, far from being temporary, the trend will probably grow as people are living longer, and notes that grandfamilies occur in every area of the country and represent all income levels, races, and ethnicities.
  3. Midlife crises. Rather than fearing their advancing age, boomers are becoming less concerned with numbers as they mature. Bitter says this is the beginning of wisdom, or “the centered sense of the timelessness of all things.” She suggests thinking of marketing in the same way you might universal design: If you create something that can be used by anyone, it will be appreciated by everyone.
  4. The “Me Generation.” Bitter shows how the common trope of younger generations being full of themselves goes astray: All young people project that sort of bravado to a certain extent. “The images of self-entitled, self-centered, and materialistic boomers do not sit well, and the majority of those surveyed believe advertisers and reporters frequently get it wrong. From a developmental perspective self-involvement and materialism are features of a striving lifestyle typical of younger adults, which would be accurate for any generation, not just the Baby Boom.”

Though this isn’t a book specifically about real estate, Bitter includes numerous examples of housing communities that are successfully meeting the needs of this new batch of grandparents. And she clearly thinks highly of REALTOR® outreach to consumers: “Has an ad ever brought a tear to your eye? …Fast forward to the recent ads by the National Association of REALTORS® about the ‘American Dream of home ownership’ featuring a grandfather and his grandson. Mature consumers appreciate the art of a story well told.”

Now that’s a stereotype I think we can all live with.

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

 

The Boomer economy: Caring has its costs

A lot has been written about Baby Boomers, who are doing a lot more to boost the economy than they are given credit for — a lot more — says author Lori Bitter.

Bitter, author of “The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers are Bridging the Generation Gap,” says Boomers are not only taking in their parents, but sometimes several generations of family members who have not recovered from the Great Recession.

The problem, she says, is that they are doing it all at great peril to their own retirement.

“The real story is they may have two or three generations of people living in their homes that they were working their butts off to support,” she says. “This generation just gets bashed. When you see what is really happening. It is more interesting that the headlines and misunderstood labels.

“They are literally holding up the economy by taking care of families who haven’t made it through the recession too well, taking care of their elders and grandchildren,” she says. “Even if they aren’t totally supporting them, they are contributing to all those households.”

Not only are they endangering their own retirement by supporting family members, but they are also doing it at the expense of their own health, she says.

“Fifty is typically is where you have your personal health concerns,” she says. You look at your health in a different way. Middle-age people are managing a number of chronic conditions of their own. While caring for people at the older end of the spectrum or younger end, they’re managing doctor appointments of others, and push their own health care needs to the bottom of the list. They can see the decline of person they are they are taking care and simultaneously ignore their own health. We urge this population to take care of their own health. If their health problems get worse, the whole system breaks down.”

What is Retirement in the 21st Century – Does It Include Work?

By Gregg M. Lunceford, Doctoral Student – Case Western Reserve University

In 2011 America’s Baby Boomer’s began turning age 65 a rate of approximately 10,000 people per day[i]. Historically age 65 has been the milestone at which many people retire. Dictionary.com defines retirement as “the act of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age”. This classic definition was more appropriate when retirement systems were created in the early 20th century to provide income for aging employees with diminishing work skills. When the Social Security Act of 1935 was drafted the average life expectancy for men and women were ages 58 and 62 respectively[ii]. By 2013 the average life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. increased to ages 76 and 81 respectively[iii].

Our increased longevity and improved health now allows for a wider range of lifestyle options therefore retirement is taking on new meaning. For many, retirement has become a career transition that includes work on different terms in the same profession, or the beginning of a new career[iv]. Work with flexible structures has led to “win-win” situation for retiring workers and employers as they recognized several benefits from working beyond retirement age. First, many individuals benefit from the socialization and feelings of accomplishment that come from work. Forty percent of individuals who completely retire from the workplace suffer from clinical depression and 6 out of 10 report a decline in health[v]. For many, work provides an outlet to continue to thrive and improve their well-being. Second, working in retirement allows many employers to maintain valuable knowledge individuals have developed over 30-40 year careers. Such individuals are often valuable mentors and can assist with succession planning and the training of younger employees in the workforce. Finally, Baby Boomers represent the largest cohort in the workplace. The complete exit of all them from the workforce at age 65 has the potential to create a human resource gap and limit overall productivity. The retention of Baby Boomers may help many organizations improve their productivity and become more competitive.

Given the overall benefits, it is important that society better understand what factors may predict an individual’s intent to work in retirement. In 2015, a study was conducted on retirement work intention[vi]. In the study 227 working individuals, of which 93% were age 50 or older, were surveyed to see what factors contributed to their decision to work in retirement. Our research showed that a person’s confidence in their ability, willingness to be adaptable and belief that they will have meaningful opportunities for work in retirement were all predictors of their intent to work in retirement.

Retirement has evolved and no longer means the complete exit from the workforce. Work with flexible options is becoming a rewarding lifestyle option for many retirees. Careful reflection on what activities will provide happiness and fulfilment should be considered in the retirement planning process and may lead to greater success in retirement.

[i] Synder, M. 2010, December 30. In 2011 The baby boomers start to turn 65: 16 statistics about the coming retirement crisis that will drop your jaw. End of The American Dream [online].

[ii] http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

[iii] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus14.pdf#016

[iv] Kim, J. E., & Moen, P. 2001, June 3. Is retirement good or bad for subjective well being. Current Directions in Psychologicial Science, 10: 83–86.

[v] Sahlgren, G. H. 2013. Work longer, live healthier: The relationship between economic activity, health and government policy. Institute of Economic Affairs: Discussion Paper #46

[vi] Lunceford, G. M. (2016, January). Retirement Values: What Factors Influence the Decision to Work in Retirement. Unpublished Doctoral Study at Case Western Reserve University . Cleveland, OH.

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchange

Gregg Lunceford, CFP® is a 24 year veteran in the financial services industry. Mr. Lunceford specializes in wealth management and works with clients on financial, estate and retirement planning issues. He currently, is a doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and is studying how individuals make career transitions to retirement. Mr. Lunceford holds a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BBA from Loyola University of Chicago.

Email: gml56@case.edu

 

 

 

 

 

Lori’s Interview with Barry Moltz on Business Insanity Radio

I was recently interviewed by Barry Moltz on Business Insanity Talk Radio. You can listen here:

 

Marketing to Grandparents

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 12.32.04 AM
Abraham Maslow never intended to be a marketer. But when it comes to creating products, services, and messaging for older adults, his “13 personality attributes of the self-actualizing person” from Toward a Psychology of Being provide focused guidelines for creating a great creative brief. Recall that self-actualization is the realization of one’s full potential, with a focus outside of self.

Many of the grandparents we spoke with for The Grandparent Economy considered this phase of their development to have begun with the birth of that first grandchild. It is described as a turning point, as a time when the future comes into sharper focus. There is a realization of their mortality, and of family life continuing after they are gone. Relationships take on greater meaning and a sense of selflessness takes over. Learn More →

American Marketing Association (AMA) Takes on the Senior Moment

AMA’s Christine Birkner interviewed us about Zillner’s new report on Seniors, All The Wiser, and how we define and market to older consumers. From Lori Bitter: “It’s best to target boomers based on their lifestyles and purchase behaviors—and their core values such as healthy eating or aging well, Bitter says. For example, General Mills’ Cheerios ads focus on heart health, which certainly resonates with boomers, but also could connect with anyone interested in living well, she says. “It’s a way of being ageless. They’re not saying it’s an old person’s cereal or a young person’s cereal. It’s more about the value of healthy eating.”

Read the full article here: https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/senior-moment.aspx

Lori Bitter talks to AARP members at AARP’s Ideas@50+: Multigenerational lifestyles & grandparents with realtor.com

aarp

AARP’s Ideas@50+ event in San Diego featured AARP TEK’s new RealPad roll-out, the introduction of Joanne Jenkins as AARP’s new CEO and stars ranging from Kevin Spacey to Julia Louis Dreyfus to Martha Stewart. Move.com – the parent of realtor.com and seniorhousingnet.com hosted AARP members in a special “back porch” environment complete with lemonade and fresh baked cookies. Members heard from experts in senior care, caregiving, and aging in place technology. Paul Irving, Milken Institute, and author of The Upside of Aging, spoke on “Making Cities More Senior Friendly.” Lori did a presentation on “The New Multigenerational Lifestyle,” based on her new book The Grandparent Economy.

November IMMN Webinar: Helping business become age-friendly-across the Asia Pacific

Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time: 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM (Central Time)

Speakers
: KIM WALKER, founder and CEO of SILVER, a business consultancy that helps business and government deal with the issues presented by the ageing demographic. DICK STROUD is a consultant, lecturer and writer. He is the author of Europe’s best-selling textbook on the business issues related to the aging population – The 50-Plus Market (www.the50plusmarket.com). This book was published by Kogan Page in 2006 and has recently been translated and sold in China.

Registration
click here

CostFee waived for this webinar!

About the webinar:
The Asia Pacific region includes countries with populations that are the oldest (Japan), the largest (China) and the fastest ageing (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Australia) in the world. China alone has a 50+ population larger than the entire population of USA. Although research revealed that a brand’s age-friendliness is critical in determining purchase decisions and choices for 6 out of 10 older consumers, companies remain reticent to adapt to this new reality. Perhaps the major barrier to change is the availability of a comprehensive and rigorous process that measures an organization’s age-friendliness. Kim Walker’s company is about to release version 2.0 of a unique and sophisticated tool that provides such a solution.

The AF Tool was developed by our speaker Kim Walker in collaboration with Dick Stroud (UK’s 50+ marketing expert). By tracing a customer journey relative to the physiological effects of aging, it can identify the potential barriers that will diminish the ability of brands to engage with and satisfy the needs of older consumers. The AF tool uses the latest iPad app and cloud technology to test and map the sensory, physical and cognitive aspects of physiological aging against 150 customer touch-points.By generating comparable metrics, companies can reduce the barriers of doing business with their aging customers.

Quoted: Can Empty Nesters Still Afford to Splurge? SmartMoney

For this article Can Empty Nesters Still Afford to Splurge? in the current issue of SmartMoney, I spoke with writer Missy Sullivan about the empty nesters’ mentality.