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Making Your Mental Health a Priority After the Loss of Your Spouse

Our thanks to Elmer George,,  for this contribution to our blog: 

A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer and spent her final days in hospice. I must admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye-opening. My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief, while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share my experiences with others.

The loss of a spouse is a devastating life event. For seniors, many who have been with their partners for decades and decades, it can be an enormous blow to their mental health. Not only do you face crippling sadness, loneliness, and depression, but you have to cope while also handling final arrangements, dealing with life insurance policies and the will, and doing what you can to avoid clashing with family. That’s why it’s vital that you make your mental well-being your #1 priority during this trying time.

Don’t try to speed up your grief

“Numerous research studies have demonstrated spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to later problems, including depression, chronic stress, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Psychology Today.

It is counterproductive to try to convince yourself to get over your grief, or to listen to people who tell you that there should be a time limit on your mourning. While prolonged depression stemming from the loss of a spouse can lead to health problems, attempting to suppress grief can also be incredibly detrimental. Know that you are allowed to feel sad, and never try to speed up your grieving process.

One of the best ways to begin the grieving process is to have a service for your spouse. Whether the service is a funeral or for cremation, this is an important first step. A service honors your spouse, brings family together, begins the healing process, and may bring loved ones the closure they need.

Avoid short-term fixes that can become bad habits

You might think that it’s okay to develop a few bad habits because you’re just getting through the hard times and these new habits aren’t part of your normal lifestyle, just part of the grieving process. But relying on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or overeating to help you cope with your emotional pain is even more dangerous for seniors than for younger people. Alcohol, for example, exacerbates mental health problems like anxiety and depression and is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but seniors tend to already be on more medications, which can have negative interactions with other substances.

Focus on eating right and exercising

The best thing you can do for your brain is to eat right and exercise. Getting enough physical activity helps our brain produce chemicals that improve our mood. What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and if you feed yourself subpar fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. If you want to help your brain battle depression and anxiety, stick to a healthy diet and be sure to get at least 30-45 minutes of moderate activity per day.

“Research in humans shows that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to healthy cognition,” says the National Institutes of Health.

Force yourself to be social

When dealing with the loss of a spouse, many seniors tend to self-isolate. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Talking with family and friends is one of the best ways to overcome excessive grief. “The most compassionate self-action you can take is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need,” says Another way to talk to people about your grief is to join a grief group or seek counseling. These options may be available either locally or online.

There is no magic bullet for dealing with the devastating grief that comes with losing a spouse. But if you make a point to focus on your own mental health, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

About is a resource guide for everything related to seniors. We connect our readers to reliable sources on the internet so they don’t have to spend time searching. We have safety tips for daily activities, and resources that range from healthcare to volunteering.

Article & quick links provided by ElderVille:

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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. 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].



[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.







How This Woman Reinvented Herself By Chasing Her Own Brand After 50, John Tarnoff talks with Lori on Huffington Post

For the Year of the Boomer — 2014 is the year the youngest Boomers turn 50 — here is another installment in my survey of 50 Boomers across 10 career categories who have reinvented themselves within the last 10 years.

“After 50, you have to chase your own brand, and become your own kind of leader.” This is Lori Bitter’s advice to Boomers contemplating (or being forced to contemplate) a career reinvention. Bitter has excellent credentials in this department, having “failed upwards,” as she puts it, through a series of high-powered executive positions in the advertising industry, and now running her own branding and marketing consulting practice called The Business of Aging. Learn More →

Reaching the Seasoned Traveler at the Educational Travel Conference, Jan. 19-22 in Orlando, FL

Later this week I’ll be at the The Educational Travel Conference (ETC), Jan. 19-22 in Orlando, Florida. ETC is the founding conference for Alumni, Museum, Zoo, Conservation, and Nonprofit Educational Travel. It hosts 450 delegates who are a highly-qualified international group of nonprofit travel planners, suppliers, specialty tour operators and destinations. They assemble to focus on the development, operation and marketing of group educational, experiential and affinity travel worldwide.

I am looking forward joining Kathy Dragon, Doris Gallan and Heather Hardwick Rhodes for several agenda sessions there on Friday Jan. 20:

  • Going Past 40: How Today’s Baby Boomers are Traveling and Making their Buying Decisions, 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.
  • Boomer Product Development: Go Broader, Go Deeper by Appealing to Core Values of the 40+, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Prime Time Travelers: Diving Into The Digital/Social Component Of the Boomer Marketplace,  4:15 – 5:30 p.m

Learn more about The Educational Travel Conference (ETC) here.

Autumn Issue of C2 magazine: The Future of Caring

So much has changed since our last issue of C2! The one constant is that the economic outlook continues to provoke anxiety. Older adults appear to be faring better in some respects than younger generations, though our studies show they continue to live under a cloud of worry. Many are expressing this as the loss of the American dream for younger generations, particularly their children and grandchildren.

Continuum Crew has experienced positive growth as the mature consumer market continues to be able to spend on a number of products and services for themselves and their extended families. In fact, a new MetLife Report on American Grandparents (July 2011) notes that households led by those aged 55 to 64 increased their non-health related spending by an average of $11,700 over the past ten years, when their household income rose just $1,200. Further, in the same ten-year period 55- to 64-year-olds spent $7.6 billion on baby food, infant equipment and clothing, toys, games, and tricycles – a 71% increase. Household spending for the 25- to 44-year-old households with children present saw a far smaller rate of increase indicating that baby boomer grandparents are helping in all new ways. (Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Surveys).

It has never been more important to listen carefully to consumers to understand what they want from products and services, and how they want to be engaged. Continuum Crew launched Crew Media earlier this year to purchase – the only baby boomer social network. Founded in 2006 by Jeff Taylor, also founder of, Eons has more than 800,000 members who have started more than 1,700 groups focused on their passions and interests. Learn more about it from community manager Ri Regina on page 13.

Also under the Crew Media banner is our partnership with GRAND – the digital magazine for the grandparenting lifestage. As a first-time grandmother to baby Gabriel McClain, I am proud to be GRAND’s new publisher.

Another initiative we launched this past spring is Move Beyond Age, a coalition of individuals and companies who are committed to making smart design a quality of life issue. We are encouraging companies to design better products and services for older consumers, which in turn create better experiences for every generation. Take a look at Jeffrey DeMure’s article on the Bookend Markets, Bill Yates on GreatCall, and Stephen Winner on the Silverado Story, for examples of companies and thought leaders who understand the importance of designing smart products and services.

Also new to Continuum Crew is The Business of Aging radio show on WeEarth Global Radio Network – WGRN. The show is also available here on our blog and on iTunes. In this issue we share our first show of the season, an interview with Patricia Lippe Davis from AARP Media Sales on her view of the mature consumer marketplace. We are currently in our second season and hope you will join our listenership as we talk about successful strategies for engaging consumers over 40.

With that, I am pleased to present to you our latest issue of 
C2 magazine, Issue 27, Autumn 2011

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our market and our work here at Continuum Crew!

Lori Bitter,
Editor-in-Chief, C2 magazine

Looking forward to ASA’s Aging in America Conference & What’s Next Boomer Business Summit next week

As you put together your schedules for these events next week, consider these ones where we can connect:

ASA’s Aging in America 2011

Tuesday April 26 – 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Boot Camp: Social and Mobile Media for Dummies

On the Friday, I also recommend you check out Barbara Waxman’s session ‘Developing Your Authentic Leadership Style‘, at 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Barbara is a Bay-area based executive and life coach, this presentation is powerful stuff and I am always impressed by Barbara and her work.

What’s Next Boomer Business Summit

Friday April 29, 2011
Come by and visit us all day at our Continuum Crew ‘Chill-out & Relaxation Lounge’. Also between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Barbara Waxman will sit with us at our lounge’s comfy chairs, available to chat and we’ve asked that she bring a few complimentary copies of her book How to Love Your Retirement for some of the first guests at our lounge.

Social and Mobile Media Trends
Get onboard as online campaigns migrate from banners and email to social media and mobile apps – are magazine and TV ads history? Is e-mail marketing so last century? Is this Geolocation here to stay (and will the 50+ use it)?Are you ready for the change?
ModeratorJeff Makowka, Senior Strategic Advisor, Thought Leadership, AARP
– Bill Tancer, General Manager, Global Research, Experian Marketing Services
– Lori Bitter, President, Continuum Crew
– Jeff Hasen, Chief Marketing Officer, Hip Cricket

12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch with the Experts
I am a table host, and there will be a sign up sheet at registration. Sign up for mine and we’ll be having lunch together.

5:30- Networking Reception
Time to discuss an informative day!

The weather in San Francisco has been pretty nice the last couple of days – here’s to hoping it continues, I’ll see you here next week!

ADVantage, The 50+ Individual

Join me in New York City for AARP’s ADVantage event with AdAge, April 5th at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. It is full of provocative speakers and a great agenda!

Why go? The needs and routines of today’s 50+ population continue to change rapidly, as more and more people live longer, start families later in life, and prolong retirement. These factors have created a world where those 50+ play an increasingly critical role by nature of their own decisions, as well as their influence on the decisions made by their children and older parents. AARP is exploring how the new 50+ population is impacting the face of the American family, and how to respond to its evolving needs, responsibilities, and aspirations.

So, to better learn how to serve, inform and engage Americans 50 and older, AARP, in collaboration with Advertising Age and Google, is producing Advantage: The 50+ Individual, to understand how to better serve, inform and engage Americans 50+.

Takeaways are:

  • Attain valuable insights into the wants and needs of the 50+ population from experts
  • Better understand how the 50+ individual’s role as influencer and decision maker for three generations of family (themselves, their parents and their children) affects the marketplace
  • Learn how to build greater relevance in these people’s lives by meeting their needs
  • Exclusive access to a white paper co-authored by AARP and Advertising Age – for addressing the 50+ population, and receive quarterly electronic communications from AARP with relevant updates
  • How to more effectively communicate with the 50+ population
  • White paper co-authored by AARP and Advertising Age (released in April 2011 with advanced copies to all attendees) on the behaviors and habits of the 50+ population

Who benefits from attending: The content of ADVantage: The 50+ Individual is aimed at brand marketers in corporate and social organizations such as: Marketing Brand Managers, Researchers, Media Planners and Buyers, Agency Account Managers, Entrepreneurs. It is for anyone looking to strengthen their brand’s position with the 50+ individual.

Register: here

Baby Boomers Neglected by Marketers, an Interview with eMarketer

Our president Lori Bitter spoke with eMarketer senior analyst Lisa E. Phillips about how boomers use media and the best ways to reach them.

eMarketer: The baby boomers grew up with television, and got accustomed to being the target market. Now that most of them are in their 50s and 60s, how do they view advertising and marketing messages?

Lori Bitter: When we talk to boomers in our research, they really feel that for many mainstream products, the messages aren’t being targeted to them at all. With boomers, it’s not about age, it’s about being able to see themselves in those brands and products. They feel disconnected from a lot of the brands that they helped make successful, like Levi’s and Gap, and other mainstream brands.

“We’re about a lot more than health conditions and retirement plans. There’s a lot more going on in our lives.”
A lot of boomers say, “We’re about a lot more than health conditions and retirement plans. There’s a lot more going on in our lives.” Yet that’s the only advertising they really see focused on them. And it’s sort of like, “Well, what about the other 80% of my life? Two minutes of my day are spent swallowing a pill for a chronic condition and after that, I’m just a person who needs to buy clothes and cars and shoes and homes and all sorts of other things.”

They’re not being messaged to and they don’t see themselves in those messages.

The baby boomer generation was the first consumer culture in our country. They were the focus of music and clothing styles, you name it. Now people in their 50s and 60s are looking around and saying, “The market was chasing me my whole life and when I turned 40, they didn’t care anymore. All of a sudden, I’m passé.”

eMarketer: That leads me to the question, are they as brand-loyal as some marketers assume? If they stop marketing to them, will boomers keep buying “their” brands because they always have?

Bitter: Boomers are no more brand loyal than any other generation of consumers. They’re absolutely not. One of the arguments on Madison Avenue about why we don’t target older adults is that they’ve made all their brand choices for their lifetime and they’re sort of done.

We have a chart in our presentation that we call the Life Stage Mosaic. It shows all the different life stage dynamics that happen between the ages of 40 and 60. Around 50, there are all these new things going on in boomers’ lives and every time a boomer leaves one of these life stages or enters into a new life stage—for instance, like caregiving or grandparenting or remarriage—all of a sudden they’re buying and considering products and services and brands that they may never have had any connection with before.

eMarketer: If marketers aren’t bothering to tailor their messages to boomers, they probably don’t realize that about 80% of them are online. Do you think advertisers are really trying to reach them online?

Bitter: Not very well. I’ve been looking at the sites that I consider the usual suspects for targeting boomers, and the ads are for the antidepressant Cymbalta and erectile dysfunction. Boomers have very robust, rich lives and lots of really cool and deep interests, because all of a sudden they have a lot more time in their lives. They’re not parenting children anymore and they’ve got more time to explore.

“Brands tend to be afraid of ‘ageing’ their brand by creating boomer/senior messaging.”
Brands tend to be afraid of “ageing” their brand by creating boomer/senior messaging. There are so many places and ways online to make those messages very personal, where no one would ever know other than the boomer on that site that a brand was reaching out to them.

eMarketer: Are there any brands or products that are using ageless messaging to reach boomers?

Bitter: Yes, look at Apple’s advertising. It’s decidedly ageless. It’s about a lifestyle and a state of mind—actually, more a state of being. It’s about controlling all your media, and that appeals to boomers. That control thing is a big factor and Apple has managed not to alienate any population with the marketing that they do.

eMarketer: Is anyone doing a good job, do you think, reaching boomers online?

“I see some great things from advertisers like Bloomingdale’s and Barneys and some of the retailers in New York that tell me they really understand who the consumer is on that site.”
Bitter: I don’t see a lot of great stuff. Some sites do a good job with baby boomers without overtly saying, “This is about baby boomers.” There’s a site called, which I think is a very New York-centric site, based on some of the women who put it together. I see some great things from advertisers like Bloomingdale’s and Barneys and some of the retailers in New York that tell me they really understand who the consumer is on that site.

There are some community sites online that are very specific, targeting life stage for baby boomers like a or a Just from a pure aesthetic—design and usability—they’re doing a great job with their target. I think does a fantastic job targeting what you could call a niche, but it’s a huge issue with the baby boomer population.

Some of the more general interest stuff, all you’re really seeing are things like drug ads. You see a little bit of lifestyle stuff, but not anybody who’s doing a great job. I look at brands like Talbots and Chico’s, for example, and I wonder why they’re not online, why I’m not seeing any digital advertising for these brands.

eMarketer: I happen to know that Talbots uses a lot of email, to the point that it feels like overload. As much as I like them, I just can’t respond to that many emails, free shipping or not.

Bitter: Exactly. And that begs the question, do marketers to this age group think, “Older people are heavy users of direct mail, so can we get boomers to respond to email”? I need to go into my email and unsubscribe to a lot of things because like you, I get bombarded.

eMarketer: What has popped up in your research that surprised you?

Bitter: The last study we did showed baby boomers falling into two really distinct segments around age: leading boomers, who are 55 to 65, and the trailing boomers, who are late 40s to mid 50s. The older boomers are much more like senior consumers and trailing boomers much more like Gen Xers.

So we are preaching to our clients that, while traditional media still works for the older end of the boomer segment, we’d like to see them move more dollars into digital media and start connecting with boomer consumers online—and then using the traditional media that we know works as support around those campaigns.

A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here

IMMN added to Boomer Authority Radio Network

The International Mature Marketing Network (IMMN) radio channel has been added to the Boomer Authority Radio Network (BARN) website. Boomer Authority has made IMMN their featured network.

The first two hosts to be placed under the IMMN channel are Brent Green host of Generation Reinvention and Sandra Levitin host of Kalon Women in Business Blog Talk Radio (both already syndicated by BARN).

IMMN: International Mature Marketing Network is a non-profit consortium of marketers, advertisers, agency executives, manufacturers, publicists, media, academics and researchers focused on the 40+ consumer, a market of growing size and influence around the world.

Boomer Authority™ Helping Baby Boomers with Timely Advice When They Need it Most: Launched in April 2009, Boomer Authority™ is  the largest and only global association of its kind, bringing together men and women from 23 countries and from every professional discipline serving and fulfilling the needs of the 50+ Baby Boomer and Senior demographic with a wide array of products and services. It is a vibrant and compelling global ecosystem for business networking, the exchange of ideas and, most importantly, for the dissemination of valuable content about products and services for 50+ Baby Boomers and Seniors. Members comprise encore career experts, midlife transition coaches, eldercare experts, estate planning legal counselors, retirement/financial planners, gerontologists, educators, and literally dozens of other professions. Members operate some of the world’s most prominent boomer-targeted digital advertising agencies, PR firms, mature marketing organizations, and manage top national brands. Among the membership, are publishers of the most successful and most visited Boomer-centric websites, blogs and social networking communities ─ covering topics from menopause to Alzheimer’s to aging gracefully to living abroad to geriatric care to wealth preservation, to grandparenting to the entire spectrum of available technologies that address the issue of aging. The products marketed and sold by members include mobility and assistive technologies, medical devices, fitness equipment, brain fitness software, cognitive health products & services, digital health technologies, pharmaceuticals, and anti-aging remedies and many others.

Communicating with the New 50+ Housing Consumer

Today, they represent 40% of all US households – but where will they live tomorrow?

Readers of this blog will no doubt be aware of all the facts of the size and growth of the 50+ age group (74% population increase of those aged 55 – 74 by 2020), and the power of their spend (upwards of $3 trillion annually, and outspending other generations by an estimated $400 billion each year on consumer goods and services). But to answer the previous question, as capital has diminished, housing project development must be driven by market forces – such as the needs and desires of the mature consumer. Homebuilders seeking to gain a competitive advantage can do so by re-directing their growth strategies.

New developments must respond to current market opportunity by identifying exactly who their target consumers are and how they can tailor their marketing messages to resonate with them.

I am pleased to be invited to the North State BIA (Building Industry Association) for Communicating with the New 50+ Housing Consumer on February 17th in Roseville, CA. There I will be leading attendees into issues facing the building industry today when considering marketing to the mature consumer. I’ll answer why these audiences are receptive to messages they may have ignored just a few years ago, now ignore the messages that used to be tried-and-true for these groups, and what are the issues facing builders in reaching consumers for active lifestyle communities, aging in place housing and continuing care retirement communities.

The presentation is open to both members and non-members, who will take away:
• A checklist of what is involved in reaching mature consumers about housing.
• An understanding of how to avoid the pitfalls of thinking this market is homogeneous or one-size-fits-all.
• Data portraits of the 50+ prospects who are considering a move to mature consumer housing.

Date: Thursday, February 17, 2011
Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Lunch: 12:30 – 1:00 PM)
Location/Venue: Eskaton Village Clubhouse (across from Demonstration Home)
Address: 1621 Eskaton Loop, (near La Provence Restaurant), Roseville, CA 95747
Fee: $15 for members, $25 non-members (includes lunch)
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