In the great quest to name our generation we’ve covered those who are still active and accept the term “perennials“, but maybe it’s not that easy.
The word old seems to rub Boomers the wrong way. Many in their 60s and 70s simply don’t consider themselves “old” as they continue to live productive, active lives. Some try to distinguish between young-old and old-old too.
With respect to marketing to our demographic, Jon Warner writes on LinkedIn
“older adults” are mostly viewed in society as one large group, often ranging from 50 to over 100 years of age. However, it is also because published data about older adults is poor, missing both demographic granularity and with little detail about changing preferences from one sub-population to another within the entire population set.
The Economist tells the story of how being “old” is an old idea too. We’re all living and working longer, with a series of transitions and milestones that are not recognized as phases, but as just old.
Of course there is pushback to being labeled so simply. To begin with, old doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy any more.
healthy-life expectancy has grown roughly in tandem with life expectancy; for many, 70 really is the new 60.
And many of us don’t want to retire in the traditional sense. We want to remain active in our communities, in continuous learning, and being productive in work and life.
All this shows that life stages are primarily social constructs. Words like “old” and “retired” signal to policymakers, as well as to old people themselves, how they ought to behave and be treated by governments, businesses and employers. In a three-stage model of life’s cycle, children learn, adults work and old people rest.
The debate will continue, but it’s becoming clearer that we are not a single lump of humanity, but a generation of many transformations.
Photo by: Joe Wolf on Flickr
Photo by: Chetr2012 on Flickr