Joseph Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab, is frustrated at American business.
In spite of the fact that older people are living longer and better, his business students are stuck. “I can’t tell you how many pill reminder systems I have seen (pitched to investors),” he says.
So that’s how we’re seen by American business. How foolish of them. They’re leaving money on the table. Instead of selling us automated reminders to take our pills, they could be making tons more money off us by selling more expensive things. Like kiteboards.
When will they understand that there is so much more to us, the older third of America?
If I could grab the corporate ear, I’d tell them this: at the age of 60, we probably have as many vibrant, productive years left as it took to raise a family. We’re looking at this big span of years and reinventing ourselves. We’re creating new ways to live in our remaining years.
Professor Coughlin has this theory of 8,000 days.
“There are roughly 8,000 days between birth and college graduation; 8,000 days between college graduation and midlife crisis*; 8,000 days between midlife crisis and retirement, and another 8,000 days in retirement.
People over age sixty are going to want to spend money on:
- electronic toys, tools, and gadgets
- travel and experiences
- fitness and health
There are so many of us, and our numbers are growing.
But corporate America just can’t seem to leave behind the image of people our age as doddering old fools. Besides pill reminder systems, they think we’re stupid about tech. Here’s an $1100 computer “for seniors.” The italicized lettering is from their ad.
Now, thanks to the WOW! Computer, countless older Americans are discovering the wonderful world of the Internet every day. Isn’t it time you took part?
Don’t get me wrong–this is fine for people who need it, but most of my friends don’t even use desktops anymore. They use laptops and mobile. Some, like my friend Oscar, use their smart phones almost exclusively.
Oscar never even looks at a computer anymore. In retirement, he does all his banking and digital interacting on his phone. His wife, 63, works for an international pipe manufacturer. She sells and arrange shipments of industrial materials all over the globe. How do you think she’d feel about the sales pitch for the $1100 computer, as follows:
With all of the “pointing and clicking” and “dragging and dropping” you’re lucky if you can figure out where you are.
I’m pretty sure Kathy knows where she is!
She and Oscar are not outliers. They’re typical of older folks these days.
Check this out:
My mother just shared an article with me about some elderly people remaining upbeat in spite of physical challenges. In the article, Fletcher Hall, a 76-year old man with poor vision and mobility, writes two blogs to keep himself engaged in daily news. When his vision weakens over the course of a day, he listens to audiobooks, ordering more as needed from his Amazon Echo smart speaker. He also uses Echo to stream classical and country music. In addition, he uses Alexa (the Echo’s built-in digital assistant) to help with seemingly simple tasks that are difficult with poor eyesight, like knowing time and temperature.
But American business is plain stupid. A long time ago, Fast Company posted an article that got them in trouble–but not enough trouble, apparently, because the article is still up. If you want to see it, click on the picture below.
Back to Professor Coughlin at MIT, who says, “The new ‘generation gap’ is expectations.” The kids expect one thing of older people (“they want to buy digital pill dispensers!”) while we expect another. According to this article, Baby Boomers spend more money on travel, pets, and retail than any other group.
I’d write more, but I need to get outside and do my morning walk while dictating the next chapter of my novel using Google Docs on my smartphone. While I’m walking, I’ll probably tweet John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, about the spotty reception around my neighborhood. He and I have this ongoing conversation. He says he’s working on it.
Because I want my dang internet and I want it now. But you can hold the digital pill reminder system for another decade or two.
Just for fun, why don’t you tell us, in the comments below, what’s the most modern, 21st-century thing you’re doing now that you’re proud or excited about? Maybe that you never imagined yourself doing? Doesn’t have to be computer-related, but it could be.
*There is no such thing as midlife crisis. Seriously. You can read more here: http://anyshinything.com/the-power-of-age/good-news-middleaged-brain