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Thursday
Feb232012

How Do You View Seniors—Really?

By Patricia Amend

It’s a very good question to ask when it comes to programming, member service and retention, and hiring and managing your team. Especially if you’re targeting the so-called senior market, or plan to do so in the near future.

Honestly, now…In this age of Facebook and Twitter, do you have younger employees on your staff who see people age 50 and older as out-of-date, irrelevant, uninteresting, and on the decline?

If so, then they—and you—are making a big mistake.

Think of what baby boomers lived through—the ’60s with mass demonstrations in the streets and the Vietnam War, and Watergate in the ’70s. Think of the music they enjoyed then and still do—The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. While the boomers may now have grey hair and crow’s feet, many of them are still intensely creative, passionate about what they believe in, and yes, even rebellious.

And they’re not to be underestimated.

About five years ago, I attended my first Stones concert in Boston—admittedly, with a bit of a cynical attitude. I assumed that the band was probably washed up, and simply out to make more millions than they already had. I assumed that they’d just be going through the motions.

Wrong!

Mike Jagger (whose late father, by the way, was a P.E. teacher) and his band mates never stopped moving during the concert, which lasted nearly two hours.

Talk about aerobic activity! Talk about endurance!

And, they seemed to be having the time of their lives! After 40 years of giving concerts!

Not to mention the fact that the age range at the concert stretched from middle-school to the mid-80s.

I’m guessing that, like many other older individuals—including your members—the Stones may feel as though they’re 35, rather than 65. I offer no scientific proof here, but many people seem to age much more slowing mentally and psychologically than they do physically. I have an 83-year-old friend who’s an avid political activist and can bar-hop with the best of us!

I’ll bet that you know people just like her. And, today, many folks are working well into their 80s and even 90s!

So, your programming and member service for clients over 50 should consider how people feel—not just how old they are or how they look! Yes, programs need to be safe, but they should never be boring! We’ll be addressing this important topic in detail in a feature story in CBI.

But, for now, I offer this clip of elderly ladies enjoying Aqua Zumba.

Notice that the emphasis is clearly on joy…Look at how delighted they are! Look how the class and instructor touch their spirits!

- Patricia Amend is Executive Editor of CBI magazine and can be contacted at p.amend@fit-etc.com.

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