Despite the incredible growth in older demographic age groups, especially the cohort of people age 65 to 74, we still suffer from the use of condescending language when it comes to the aging process. I know I cringe when someone in a store calls me “dear”. I’m not their “dear” and the use of that word is patronizing at best.
I recently saw an ad for Ford, the largest American car maker. It portrayed a woman probably in her mid to late 40s talking on the phone to her mother saying “WiFi– it’s not a question, mom, it’s a thing”. Apparently nobody told her that WiFi has become a “must have” in retirement communities around the country. I know I’m not the only one that felt this was incredibly condescending and I made a mental note to drop Ford from my list of possible car manufacturers for my next purchase. The purchasing power of those of us who technically qualify as “seniors” (another word I don’t like much) is enormous. Older adults are rapidly becoming the largest market segment in society and will possess the most purchasing power of any demographic, according to a task force at the International Longevity Center in New York. So it’s time for all of us in day-to-day conversations, in marketing campaigns, and generally as we interact with older Americans to “watch our language”. Get the picture?
I’ll be making a presentation on the psychology of aging at the Leading Age Conference in New Orleans being held October 29 through November 1. Hope you’ll attend.