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Posts Tagged ‘senior citizen’

As I prepare for my entrance into what are colloquially known as “the cranky years,” I’m becoming especially sensitive about the marketing—or lack thereof—of services and products to the senior population. Besides pills, pads, portfolios and various insurance vehicles (including my personal favorite, the reverse mortgage, in which at least one of the participants hopes for an early death), pickings are slim. Apparently, people over sixty don’t give a damn about music, art, exercise or, god forbid, fashion–okay, except for Lauren Hutton and maybe Steven Tyler.

Lauren Hutton (image: marie claire) and Steven Tyler (image: TV Guide)

But baby boomers—and God  help me, I am one—are not going gentle into that good night and designers and manufacturers are belatedly turning their attention to developing stuffs we future oldsters don’t yet know we want.

Yeah, fine; it’s about time.  But now this: in order to assist product designers and marketers, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab has designed the “Age Gain Now Empathy System,” an ungainly turn of phrase that allows the developers to playfully call it AGNES (presumably after someone’s grandmother).  AGNES is actually a bulky, space-age looking suit with various restraints, harnesses, weights and other features that are suppose to mimic age-related limitations. According to the AgeLab website, AGNES “has been calibrated to approximate the motor, visual, flexibility, dexterity and strength of a person in their mid-70s.”

 “I’d rather be writing a paper”

I’m all for products that, in the words of an upbeat health policy analyst, “allow for wellness and prevention and lifestyle enhancement.” But I’m flabbergasted that MIT would squander its resources developing an ugly-looking space costume that twenty-year-old students can wear around to understand what seventy-five feels like. Why not ask a 75-year-old?

Better yet, why not develop a system that allows those in their mid-seventies (or those who feels that way) to experience being twenty again? See, I had this idea…

Introducing the “Age Reversal Now Illusion Experiment” or ARNIE® (patent pending)

 The ARNIE® features a Lithium battery-powered propulsion system that keeps its wearing moving along. Double torsion springs absorb excess stress while high-capacity electric cylinders offer the strength of a college football linebacker. Glasses provide optimal vision using digital SLR technology. A small onboard computer monitors vital signs and supplies infusions of B-6, B-12, glucosamine, Viagra, and, for an additional cost, medical marijuana via a discrete, non-invasive transfusion system. The deluxe version also included New York Times crosswords, Sudoku, and reruns of “Jeopardy.” Best of all, the ARNIE® emits a powerful mind control beam that can reach up to 500 people at a time and creates the illusion that the wearer is a young, hot, twenty-something. Comfortable and lightweight, the ARNIE® can be worn year-round (even to the beach!) and folds to fit comfortably in your pocket or handbag for those times when you might want to take advantage of senior citizen discounts.

 Come on, MIT! Let’s put those research dollars to good use!

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By now everyone and their mother has heard about, read about, or seen Betty White’s star turn on “Saturday Night Live.” White, at 88 the oldest host the show has ever had, was recruited thanks to a huge fan movement on Facebook. Mission accomplished: White demonstrated why shn266442514828_8596e remains not just a show-business legend but a consummate performer with pitch perfect timing. 

In a night filled with the pleasures of seeing returning veterans like Cheri Oteri, Rachael Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph,Amy Poehlner, and Tina Fey, White more than held her own. The show tackled the age difference between the cast and its guest (about half a century or more) head-on in a way that was funny, yes, but also generous and even celebratory. The generation gap was nowhere in evidence; clearly bawdy humor knows no age restrictions. 

White’s skill as a television comedian isn’t a surprise, given her years of experience, some 56 years by her own account. But the excitement generated by her eighty-eight and a half year-old presence seemed to mean something more. Sure, Betty White is the grandmother (great-grandmother?) the audience probably wants. She’s also, in an age of heightened awareness of our own and our loved ones’ morality, the antithesis of the despair that old age represents. In the real world, there are wheelchairs and nursing homes, strokes and Alzheimers, isolation and depression; on “SNL” there is Betty White. Who among us would not be pulled in and held in a state of hopeful suspended animation by the thought of being half the active, engaged and thoroughly entertaining Ms. White deep into our ninth decade?

On the other hand, Betty White gave a kick-ass, thoroughly invested, totally funny performance. At any age, she is a television treasure. Rock on, Betty.

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