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After decades of denial, pandemic is making Minnesota baby boomers feel their age

By Kevyn Burger Special to the Star Tribune

Baby boomers, the generation that refuses to age, might have met their match in the coronavirus.

Marilyn and Juan Galloway exchanged a look that many married-with-children couples might recognize.

Their 22-year-old daughter had just dropped an unintentional bombshell, one that left them equal parts amused and wounded.

“She said, ‘If you guys get COVID, you’ve lived your lives,’ ” said Marilyn, of White Bear Lake. “She was dead serious, like, ‘You’re elderly and at the end of the road.’ We were stunned. We’re 55 and 63. We run, golf and bike. We’re more active than our kids. At the age that my grandmother wore a housecoat, I spiked my hair and dyed it purple.”

For baby boomers, it seems that COVID-19 has done what self-denial and evidence to the contrary has been unable to do: make them feel old.

For the generation whose youthful battle cry was “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and who prided themselves on remaining relevant as the years accumulated, being lumped in with the cohort regarded as frail and vulnerable has come as a shock.

“The pandemic has been a reckoning for baby boomers,” said Scott Zimmer, a speaker and trainer for Bridgeworks, a Wayzata consulting company that advises businesses on generational dynamics.

Based on sheer size, the 76 million American boomers, now between ages 56 and 74, have been courted by marketers since their postwar arrival. They have reframed every life stage they’ve passed through and were in the process of rewriting the script for their retirement years when the coronavirus arrived and stripped away their pretensions.

“They retain a youthful spirit and don’t want to slow down like previous generations. They take on encore careers and find new activities to be passionate about,” Zimmer said. “Now they’re forced to acknowledge that they’re not invincible. Even if they’re in great shape, they can’t deny that their age puts them in greater danger if they catch the virus.”

Dings and Dents

Writer Bill Souder’s upcoming biography of novelist John Steinbeck is titled “Mad at the World.”

That could also describe the 70-year-old author’s feeling about the way his age group is characterized.

“ ‘Seniors.’ ‘Elderly.’ I don’t like those terms. ‘Your sunset years.’ The labels they attach feel like they are trying to erase you. The message is that when you get older than a certain age, you’re in this other category. You are diminished, a fossil,” he said. “I don’t belong in that club.”

Souder has preferred to define himself by his activities rather than his age.

“I ride my bike, I still wade a trout stream. Last year I got a new hunting dog to trudge through the forest and fields with me. I do the same things I did when I was 40, but a little slower,” he said. “I’m like a golf ball. I’ve got dings and dents, a little asthma, a little heart disease.”

Since the arrival of the virus, Souder’s pre-existing conditions, previously regarded as minor and manageable, have prompted him to act with caution. He’s isolating in his home in Washington County in the company of his wife, their adult son who’s quarantining at home following a furlough and Sasha the wire-haired pointing griffon.

“At a certain age you are at an elevated risk and you have to live your life differently,” he admitted. “The science is clear. I can’t spin it.”

Ageism at the Root

For many boomers, the pandemic is revealing, even cementing, some long-held negative stereotypes associated with aging.

“They are experiencing ageism with the assumption that a number — their age — is the defining marker,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, a national association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “They may have experienced ageism in the workplace, but not in their day-to-day lives. They’re seeing how the contributions of older adults are undervalued and underappreciated.”

Age is just a number, but how that number is perceived is subjective. As people get older, the definition of “old” changes. In a Pew Research Center study, only 21% of those between the ages of 65 and 74 said they felt old, and just 35% of those 75 and older self-identified that way.

Advances in medical science in the past half-century have created a longevity revolution that is giving Americans not only longer life spans, but more years of good health. Still, anyone north of 55 is often lumped into the same age category.

Lori Bitter believes that happens out of “ignorance or laziness.”

The president of the Business of Aging, a California consultancy that advises companies marketing to mature consumers, Bitter thinks the older demographic needs to be sliced thinner.

“There’s not enough understanding that 65 and 85 are vastly different, just as people who are 50 and those who are 65 are nowhere in the same territory. Some of the language used for this vast, diverse group is ridiculous,” she said.

“Companies and others trying to speak to the different ends of the cohort need to distinguish between them,” she said.

It’s a fine point that the pandemic does not take into account.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “the greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older,” the CDC also generalizes with the statement that “As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases.”

That means that in the foreseeable future, taking the threat of the virus into consideration may cause baby boomers to live more constricted lives.

“We really don’t want to get it, so we are being conservative,” said Souder. “We don’t touch our kids. We sit in the backyard. All bets are off on when that will change. But I’m not bedridden, I don’t have one foot in the grave. I’m here and a high-mileage version of myself.”

Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis-based freelance broadcaster and writer.

This article is originally featured in StarTribune.

Simple Ways to Relieve Insomnia Without Prescription Medication

Our thanks to Gabriel Patel for this contribution to our blog. 

Sleep disorders are surprisingly common. In fact, Science Daily says about one in four Americans struggles with insomnia every year. It’s normal for things like work stress, major life transitions, and emotionally upsetting events to trigger brief episodes of insomnia. Even something as simple as an old mattress or a noisy new neighbor can cause sudden sleep problems.

Fortunately, 75% of people with acute insomnia will recover without developing persistent or chronic sleep issues. The best part? You don’t need to reach for addictive sleep medications to resolve your battle with sleeplessness. Here are some simple but effective ways to improve your sleep naturally.

Invest in a New Bed

Old mattresses are a common cause of sleeplessness and are sometimes the culprit behind health issues like sleep apnea and allergies. If you’re finding it hard to get comfortable at night or you’re waking up stiff in the morning, a new mattress can make a world of difference in your sleep quality.

Finding the right mattress is a must, so read some online reviews before purchasing a bed to ensure your new investment will be a good fit for your sleep style and body type. For example, mattresses made by Tuft & Needle tend to provide better support for petite and medium-sized sleepers but can cause too much sinkage for people over 250 pounds. Whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach is also important to keep in mind during your mattress search.

Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

If you go to bed at different times every night, you may be fighting against your body’s natural internal clock. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule every single day—yes, even on weekends! This will help condition your body and brain to start winding down at the same time every night. You should also find it much easier to wake up on those early weekday mornings if you avoid sleeping in on the weekends.

If you need your weekend sleep-ins to catch up on missed sleep during the week, try to go to bed earlier. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night! While this might mean going to bed much earlier than you’re used to, it’s vital to happy and healthy daytime functioning. If you have trouble getting on track, you can use your phone to remind you.

Engage in a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Going to bed right after writing emails to clients or dealing with family stress will leave your mind reeling for hours after your head hits the pillow. Separate your daytime stressors from your bedtime with a relaxing routine.

Start your routine at the same time each evening. Engage in activities that you find calming, such as gentle yoga, meditation, reading, or listening to a podcast. It can also help to begin your routine by writing a to-do list for the following day, so you can get any lingering obligations or responsibilities out of your head for the night. Recent research reported by CTV News found that people who wrote a thorough to-do list before bed fell asleep faster than those who did not!

Avoid Stimulation Before Bed

It’s important to keep stimulating activities far away from your relaxing bedtime routine. Electronic devices, for example, emit a stimulating light wavelength that can interfere with your sleep-triggering hormones, so staring at them can be counterproductive. High-intensity exercise and heavy meals right before bed can also keep you awake.

If you need a snack, reach for sleep-promoting foods like yogurt or tart cherry juice. Most importantly, avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bed. And while alcohol is not a stimulant, it can also interfere with your sleep quality and lead to waking in the night.

Suffering through an episode of insomnia can be very frustrating. While it may be tempting to reach for a quick fix in the form of medication, adopting healthy sleep habits will serve you much better in the long run. If nothing you try is helping, consider making an appointment with your doctor to get to the root of the problem.

Media Release: Entrepreneurs In $7 Trillion Longevity Market Learn Insights On Investors, Distribution And Marketing At What’s Next Longevity Business Summit

 

 

Entrepreneurs in $7 Trillion Longevity Market Learn Insights On

Investors, Distribution and Marketing at What’s Next Longevity Business Summit

Conference Keynoted by Expert in Aging, Ken Dychtwald;

Powerhouse Speakers from AARP, NIA, Ziegler Link·Age, Home Instead

 

ATLANTA, January 30, 2020 – The What’s Next Boomer Longevity Summit kicks off its 17th year as the premier curator of 300 thought leaders in aging – this year here in the ATL – to network and learn about the trends, innovations and opportunities addressing the consumerism and needs of adults age 50+.  The one-day conference will feature power-packed panels on the conference theme of “Mobility, Memory, Money and Marketing,” all focused on capitalizing on the $7.6 trillion longevity economy.

Executive produced by Mary Furlong & Associates (MFA), the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit is known for delivering an expert forecast for success in entrepreneurship. Attendees will learn from panelists such as investors Ziegler Link·Age, Nationwide Ventures and Portfolia on how to obtain funding; opportunities in deal-making with distribution partners such as Home Instead; customer insights and market research trends from top research agencies, innovative programs driving dementia care and brain health and more. This year’s keynote address, “The Next Wave: How Boomer Retirees Will Redefine Money, Consumerism, Family, Work, Housing, Mobility, Health and Success” will be delivered by one of the visionaries in aging, Ken Dychtwald, author and co-founder of AgeWave.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my latest ideas on which industries, products, and services will dominate the emerging longevity marketplace—many of which are hiding in plain sight,” said Dychtwald. “I’ll be covering everything from medical technologies on the horizon that have the potential to dramatically transform health and aging – to how aging Boomers’ time affluence will re-define the travel and leisure, housing, education, media, and financial services industries.”

In addition, author Maddy Dychtwald who is co-founder of AgeWave, will moderate an inspirational panel of business women discussing female economic influence and fiscal makeovers for 2020 and beyond.

Attendees learn trends and insights, but also valuable business coaching such as how to scale a business, leveraging senior housing and transportation deals, delivering for home as the new health hub, using emerging technology including VR, Voice First and AI to change consumer habits and enhance workforce development, understanding fintech and privacy issues, changes in  MedicareAdvantage reimbursement models, how to incorporate aging vitality and caregiver wellness into a business model, marketing success using content development and social media, designing with aging in mind and more.

What’s Next Longevity Business Summit Comes to the A to Focus on Longevity Economy Trends

“For 17 years we have been diving into markets in longevity and we see 2020 as an important milestone where women are at the epicenter of purchasing power globally as well as building innovative businesses to address an aging society,” said Mary Furlong, a successful entrepreneur and author in aging who has made the What’s Next conferences the must-attend events in the longevity economy. “Knowing what priorities investors have for funding, how to build distribution partner pipelines, building a business based on strong research and how to create and leverage innovations in marketing are the cornerstones of what our event delivers for attendees.”

What’s Next Longevity Business Summit is co-produced by Lori Bitter, founder of The Business of Aging, and Sherri Snelling, CEO of Caregiving Club and has been held concurrent with the American Society of Aging’s annual Aging in America conference for the last 17 years. This important partnership offers attendees both conferences: one a comprehensive look at aging, the other is the Summit’s select smaller learning and networking event of thought leaders in longevity. The Summit lead sponsors include: AARP Innovation Labs, Great Call, Ageless Innovation, CareLinx, VitalTech, Medterra CBD, Business of Aging, Susan Davis International, Caregiving Club, iN2L, Hamilton CapTel, Home Instead, myFamilyChannel, SilverRide, Outpatient, Noboscu Technology, Nationwide, Portfolia, Embodied Labs, Caremerge, Stay Smart Care and Thrive. See the event agenda and full list of speakers and sponsors at: boomersummit.com

Media Contact:

Phyllis Weiss – Weiss Communications, Inc.

weiss@weiss-communications.com

# # #

About Mary Furlong/Mary Furlong & Associates

Founded in 2003, Mary Furlong & Associates (MFA) is a strategy, business development and marketing company. A serial  entrepreneur, Mary founded SeniorNet.org, and ThirdAge Media (acquired by Ancestry.com), prior to MFA. For 17 years, Mary has produced the industry leading What’s Next Longevity Business Summit and Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, adding the Washington Innovation Summit and What’s Next Canada in recent years. Author of Turning Silver into Gold, How to Profit in the Boomer Market and The MFA Longevity Market Report, Mary has been recognized by ASA, Fortune, Time and as one of the top 100 Women in Silicon Valley. She is an adviser to the Ziegler LinkAge Fund, CABHI and numerous start-up companies in addition to her private client practice.

About Lori Bitter/The Business of Aging

Lori K. Bitter provides strategic consulting, research and development for companies seeking to engage with mature consumers at her consultancy The Business of Aging. Her current research, Hacking Life Shifts, in collaboration with RTI research and Collaborate, was championed by AARP, and funded by Proctor & Gamble, Bank of America, Unilever and others. She is a 2017 Influencer in Aging, named by Next Avenue and author of The Grandparent Economy. She was president of J. Walter Thompson’s Boomer division, JWT BOOM, the nation’s leading mature market advertising and marketing company and led that firm’s annual Boomer marketing event for five years.

About Sherri Snelling/Caregiving Club

Sherri Snelling is a corporate gerontologist and founder/CEO of Caregiving Club, a strategic consulting and content creation firm focused on biopsychosocial aging, Alzheimer’s and caregiver wellness. Her innovative wellness programs include the Me Time MondayTM and 7 Ways to Caregiver Wellness workshops. She is the author of A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care, a contributing columnist and national speaker on caregiving and has done work for AARP, Keck Medicine of USC, UnitedHealthcare, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, LifeCare, QVC. She was chairman of the National Alliance for Caregiving and is on an Alzheimer’s Association board.

Age-Related Stressors and How They Affect Your Quality of Life

Our thanks to Kent Elliot for this contribution to our blog. 

Stress can affect us at any age, but seniors are often triggered by different types of stressors than kids, teens, and adults of other ages. For instance, the American Institute of Stress (AIS) explains that some of the most common stressors among seniors include the loss of a loved one, changes in personal relationships, and physical impairments affecting the five senses. For some older adults, the lack of structure in their daily lives can become problematic as well.

While some strategies for senior stress management may include a combination of meditation, yoga, exercise, healthy eating, and controlled breathing, other treatments include antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Since recommended treatments vary widely by situation, it’s important to speak with a doctor about your symptoms and the different types of solutions that may be available to you.

Read on to learn more about the stressors that most seniors face, as well as the steps you can take to get the emotional support you need when managing any ongoing worries and fears.

Common Stressors Affecting Seniors

For many seniors, difficult life situations can result in feeling stressed, fearful, or emotionally unwell—especially if they begin to notice changes in the ability to walk, talk, hear or see. Many seniors also experience stress after the development of an age-related health condition or mobility impairment, as this may lead to the fear of losing the ability to live independently, age in place, or drive a vehicle.

Changes to finances or socioeconomic status—especially after retirement—may also cause seniors to worry about their financial standing more than ever before. Depending on their financial situation and current state of health, seniors may even worry that they cannot afford to support themselves as they age. However, working with a financial advisor and setting a budget may help to ease some of those worries.

Moreover, the loss of loved ones or any change in their personal relationships is another common stressor among seniors. For many older adults, the fear of losing a child, spouse, pet, or another loved one is more worrisome than the thought of their own death. However, speaking with a trained mental health professional can help seniors to control their fears and develop a plan for the future.

How to Get the Emotional Support You Need

Anxiety disorders in seniors may occur as a result of extreme stress, trauma, bereavement, neurodegenerative disorders, or other medical conditions. As such, it’s important to identify your stressors and know when to seek professional help for chronic stress, anxiety and/or depression.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 19 percent of adults age 60 and older take an antidepressant medication for relieving symptoms of stress, depression, and/or anxiety. While some seniors may be able to control their stress without the use of antidepressants, it’s important to meet with a doctor to discuss your symptoms as soon as you begin to worry about your emotional health and well-being.

If the cost of seeking professional help for your emotional health is holding you back, however, keep in mind that Medicare Part B includes coverage for counseling with specialists such as psychiatrists and clinical social workers, as well as other mental health services. Plus, Medicare Part B provides you with one free depression screening each year. To schedule your free screening, contact your primary caregiver.

Relief from Age-Related Stress is Possible

Stress affects us at all walks of life, but our ability to cope with stress becomes even more difficult as we age. As such, it’s important to seek immediate treatment for stress to reduce your risk of heart disease and other stress-related medical conditions such as high blood pressure. By seeking treatment for your stress, anxiety, and/or depression, you will improve your quality of life and prepare yourself for any other obstacles that may come your way.

Why Are Seniors Turning to CBD?

This blog is contributed by Matt Scillitani of remedyreview.com

CBD, or cannabidiol, has been studied as a substitute for everything from anxiety cures to pet medication, and this natural aid isn’t just for the young. There’s interest in CBD among those aged 54 and older.

We studied over 1,000 seniors, 54 years old or older, and asked them questions about their CBD usage, associated benefits and side effects. Read on to hear what these mature men and women had to say.

Not So Stuck in Their Ways

Nine percent of the seniors surveyed used CBD for health-related purposes. Over 65 percent of the seniors who tried CBD said their quality of life was good, whereas just 31.1 percent said the same before trying CBD.

Skepticism may have kept 91 percent of the interviewed seniors away from CBD, but those who gave it a shot reaped its rewards. Seniors who tried it admitted that CBD prompted a dramatic improvement to their quality of life.

Ingestion Options

Fifty-four percent of seniors applied CBD by directly inserting it into the mouth. For the next most popular administration method, 21.1 percent chose to eat CBD-infused edibles and add oil drops to their beverages. The least popular ingestion method was through smoke or vapor, utilized by only 10 percent of our senior CBD users.

The CBD Hit List

Forty-two percent of seniors used CBD with the goal of reducing inflammation. Relief from chronic pain was the second most-cited incentive. Anxiety and stress were cited as the fifth and sixth most common symptoms, respectively, that seniors attempted to alleviate via CBD.

Senior Symptoms Alleviated

Chronic pain saw a 61 percent reduction rate among seniors using CBD. As added bonuses, 23.3 percent experienced a better mood and 45.6 percent noticed improved sleep quality.

This data clearly encourages CBD as an alternative healing tool. Seventy-eight percent of seniors said they were satisfied with the product, and 89 percent said they would recommend CBD for health-related purposes to a family member or friend.

Over or Behind the Counter?

Twenty-six percent of the seniors think they personally consume too many prescription drugs. CBD provides a safe alternative and has piqued interest because of it.

The effectiveness of these remedies is what won over our seniors.  Nearly 29 percent rated CBD as extremely effective, while another 38.9 percent claimed it was moderately effective.

The Next Budding Market …

Interest from all varsities of age have led to CBD’s booming market. Symptoms like chronic pain can be remedy motivators for seniors, while stress and anxiety cures attract many modern health gurus.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected responses from 1,047 seniors by administering online surveys through Prolific.ac. For this analysis, we have defined seniors as adults aged 54 and older. Respondents who were younger than the designated age were excluded from our findings. To ensure data accuracy, participants who failed an attention-check question or entered inconsistent data were excluded.

The main limitation of this study is that different sources have varied definitions for the age ranges that qualify as “seniors.” Additionally, the self-reported nature of our data is subject, but not limited, to selective memory, exaggeration, or telescoping. These findings have not been reviewed or approved by medical experts and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out and listening to a primary care physician.

Disclaimer

The findings shown in this study are not medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out primary care providers. This study is based on anecdotal evidence and relies on self-reported data.

Assisted Living or Aging in Place? How to Choose

Our thanks to Caroline James of elderaction.org, for this contribution to our blog.

 

Where to live when you’re elderly is the type of decision you want to make before life forces you to do so. If you don’t, you may discover you have fewer options than you’d hoped. Seniors who have a disability are sometimes unable to return home, and without time to spare, they have no choice but to move into whichever care facility has space.

Unfortunately, it’s also exactly the type of decision you want to avoid. No one likes thinking about losing their independence or developing an age-related disability. However, you can’t ignore the fact that two in three seniors will need long-term care as they age.

So, how do you choose where to live and receive care when you’re older? These are the three most important factors to consider.

Location

Some communities are more suited to aging in place than others. For instance, seniors who live near medical facilities, caregiving agencies, public transit, and other important amenities have an easier time aging at home than rural seniors.

Care Needs

Seniors who need a lot of daily support benefits from assisted living, where they don’t have to worry about coordinating and budgeting for in-home care. On the other hand, seniors in good health can retain full independence by aging in place. So, consider your health today and how it may change in the future; if you have chronic health conditions or mobility problems now, you’re more likely to need full-time care later on.

Cost

Assisted living averages $48,000 a year — and that cost is steadily rising. While expensive, assisted living may cost less than you’d spend aging at home. At $22 an hour, the average cost of part-time care is lower than assisted living, but seniors who need round-the-clock care can save money by moving to assisted living.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living communities offer a supportive living environment where seniors can get help with day-to-day activities, such as taking medications, preparing meals, and managing personal care. Many assisted living facilities offer perks like fitness centers, gardens, and spas.

Since every assisted living community has its own personality, you’ll want to tour several in the San Francisco area before making a decision. Keep in mind that different communities offer different levels of independence. While some have communal facilities and cater specifically to seniors needing in-home care, others offer apartments and studios for seniors who are still self-sufficient but want some basic assistance with housekeeping and healthcare. Prices also range widely in San Francisco, with assisted living costs ranging from $1,695 to $11,270 a month. Factor your budget and your needs to narrow your search for the right assisted living facility.

How to Age in Place

If you’re in good health, you may be thinking of aging in place. However, are you sure your home is the right one to age in? While most seniors prefer to age in place, many don’t live in a home suited to senior living. They might not pose an obstacle now, but staircases, narrow doorways, and dimly lit spaces become a safety hazard in your 80s.

Some seniors opt to remodel their current home while others choose to buy a new house better suited to aging in place. When making your decision, consider not only the cost but also convenience. The cost savings offered by downsizing may be modest, but moving to a newer home means fewer repairs to worry about during retirement. You’ll also be able to settle in within weeks instead of waiting months for a remodel to finish.

Whatever you choose, don’t wait to think about where you’ll live when you’re older. If you decide to move to assisted living, you’ll need time to prepare your budget and find the perfect facility for your golden years. And if you decide that you want to age in place, starting now means you have many years to enjoy your ideal home.

 

Finding Success as an Older Entrepreneur

Our thanks to Rae Steinbach, from fueledcollective.com, for this contribution to our blog.

Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, much of the 2000s has been dominated by younger entrepreneurs who have changed our personal and business lives in a number of ways. From the rise of social media to the increasing popularity of remote work and coworking spaces, entrepreneurs have had a marked impact on society.  But contrary to how our current youth-oriented culture may seem, one can begin to build a great company at any age.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common causes of new business failure is a lack of relevant skills and experience. Older entrepreneurs, as you’ll see, are often in a better position than ever to take a chance on the idea they’ve been dreaming about and watch it grow into a successful business.

 

Why Older People Make Successful Entrepreneurs

Seemingly everyone has a million-dollar idea that could change the world, but very few of us are able to navigate the business world and make it a reality. People who have spent more time working and gaining experience are generally able to hold a more realistic view of their goals, expectations, and needs.

Younger entrepreneurs also face difficulties in attempting to build a business while dealing with the financial and personal responsibilities that come with being in your 20s or 30s. Starting later in life means having more time, money, and resources to devote to your business.

 

Creating a Business

No matter how old you are, leaving an existing job for the unknown is a major risk that requires serious consideration. Half of all businesses fail within five years, so it’s crucial to be realistic and impartial when thinking about the costs and benefits of starting your own company.

When you do decide to branch out, you’ll also have to judge how much of your personal money to spend on the project. Unlike those in their 20s and 30s, older entrepreneurs generally don’t have as much time to replenish savings and retirement funds if the venture doesn’t turn out the way they hoped.

If your startup targets millennials or younger demographics, you may benefit from hiring some employees who can provide valuable insight into that market. Understanding how to capitalize on your strengths and find people to support your weakness is crucial to managing any business.

Starting a company is a massive undertaking for anyone, and that’s especially true for older entrepreneurs. That said, the experience and knowledge that come from decades in a business environment often prove even more valuable in a startup context. These strategies will help you build your company from the ground up and put you in a position to reach your goals.

 

 

Giving Gifts That Make a Difference

I get to take a look at products designed for older adults every day. This year I brought technology from two companies I have known since their start-up days into the homes of my parents.

Technology

After the passing of my step-dad, my Mom decided she wanted a medical alert device. We turned to Greatcall and Lively.  As I knew it would be, the service she has received has been exceptional. My Dad, who lives in a rural area, expressed an interest in some sort of device to stay in closer touch with us. He was especially missing all of the photos of his newest great grandson. Knowing that he is not tech savvy, we were reluctant to put an ordinary tablet in his hands. Instead we turned to GrandPad. Because of his location, the set-up proved difficult, but the service was excellent, we were communicated with about solutions, and understood the issues. I am happy to be the influencer on these purchases, and to experience the service models these companies have created.

Comfort & Joy

While I live and work in the world of technology, I’ve been working very hard this year to uncover things being created for older adults that bring joy, comfort and fun. There is plenty of investment in technology that solves for the dissonances of aging. There is not nearly enough focus (or funding) on joy. My short list of gift ideas is focused on this theme!

Give Loved1

Loved1 is subscription gift box for older adults that contains items focused on wellness and happiness. The difference is that the items are carefully curated to encourage engagement between the sender and receiver. Subscribers, usually the adult children, receive an email about the items in the box and an Engagement Guide filled with ideas to promote rich conversations and fun interactions. Subscriptions come in 12, 6 and 3 box options. This is the perfect gift for your family member living in a community to encourage family members of all ages to visit and engage around fun activities; and if you are long distance caregiver, the items in the box create conversations beyond the basic check-in calls. You can listen to my friend Paul Vogelzang’s Podcast with Loved1’s Joe Adams to learn more.

Bridges Together

Bridges Together is the go-to organization for intergenerational engagement. They offer training and tools to help individuals and communities embrace and create a truly age-integrated world. Schools, communities, and companies use the Bridges curriculum to create all types of intergenerational activities. Founder Andrea Weaver calls intergenerational engagement “an inoculation against ageism.” Become part of the age integrated movement and subscribe here. You can see the outstanding “How To Guides” that are part of your subscription. If you are looking for a fun stocking stuffer, or a way to stimulate non-political discourse over the holidays, check out the Grand Conversation Cards. This deck of cards has thought-provoking questions for people of all ages to encourage deeper conversations among multiple generations of family. These are great for the dinner table (sans devices), for workplace training, or you can play one of the games that come in the How To Guide.

 

Clothing That Comforts

Jan Erickson created Janska from a dream about a jacket. She had an older friend who had become disabled from a series of strokes. The hospital gown became her wardrobe and Jan wanted to create something to keep her warm and also restore her “personhood” during this difficult time. That jacket that Jan sketched from her dream launched a made-in-America clothing company with five collections and accessories sold nationwide. The Clothing That Comforts line is the embodiment of Jan’s philosophy that clothing does matter, and that soft, warm pieces provide dignity that can be lost when you are facing a health or mobility challenge.

I gifted my Grandmother with the Lap Wrap Shawl and the MocSocks. (I love the MocSocks too!) Imagine the joy that the cozy fabrics and beautiful colors will bring to your loved one!

 

However you celebrate the season, I hope you and your family have love, joy and fun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Grandparents’ Day!

If you’ve read my book, The Grandparent Economy, you know that my interest in the lifestage is both personal and professional. I was raised by my paternal grandparents from infancy. It was something of a novelty in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Today that is a much different story.

The origin of Grandparents’ Day

In the 70’s, Marian McQuade was a champion of intergenerational relationships, urging young people to adopt a grandparent and to have older adults in their lives. She encouraged West Virginia’s Governor to recognize an annual Grandparents’ Day. In 1973, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia introduced a resolution to the senate to make Grandparents’ Day a national holiday. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation making the first Sunday of September after Labor Day “National Grandparents’ Day.”

This proclamation cites the purpose, “”…to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”.

Grandparents Today

Nearly one third of all families in the US are grandparent households, largely due to the aging of the huge Baby Boomer population. Baby Boomers are a new breed of grandparents – more engaged and financially involved – maintaining their “helicopter” status well into grandparenthood.

The other side of the grandparent experience are grandparents who step in to raise their grandchildren, just as mine did more than 50 years ago. More than 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. This transcends race and income. The growing numbers are largely due to extended deployments of parents, death of parents, and the opioid crisis. As the opioid crisis affects multiple generations, we are seeing an increase in great grandparents as the primary caregivers for children as well. Many older adults do this at the expense of their own health and retirement savings.

In May of 2017, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” with the support from 40 older adult and advocacy groups. This act was signed into law in July. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the work of a Federal Advisory Council to provide resources and best practices to support grandparents and other relatives raising children. It’s a great start in providing for the physical and emotional well-being of these special families.

How to Celebrate Grandparents’ Day

I have some thoughts to share from a variety of my favorite organizations.

Bridges Together

In addition to Grandparents’ Day, it’s Intergenerational (IG) Awareness Month – a month set aside to raise awareness about and celebrate the benefits of intergenerational connections. Bridges Together invites you share your stories of intergenerational relationships:

Share the power of intergenerational relationships. Write a 500 word story, create a piece of art (visual or performing) and submit it to the Kraemer IG Story Contest.  The contest is now open and will remain open until Oct. 31.  Cash prizes will be awarded.  Read more and enter now!

Loved1

Do you have a grandparent or great grandparent living away from you and your family?
Loved1 delivers a gift box of thoughtfully curated products that focus on healthy living, quality of life, nutrition, and fun. You receive an email detailing the items in the box and an Engagement Guide to encourage great discussions and interactions with your family member.

GRAND Magazine

GRAND – the digital magazine for living the ageless life – is now available for FREE. If you are a grandparent, it is the ultimate guide to this stage of life. If you know a grandparent who would enjoy GRAND, subscribe for them as a gift! Check out GRAND’s site as well for more excellent information. To get your FREE subscription, click here!

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.