“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”
~ George Burns
Aging might be a fact of life but we are quickly changing the way we live it.
NOTE: This article originally released on the Huffington Post.
When I was young, turning 50 meant living a stereotype. Back then, many women in their fifties who were already looking like “old ladies”. Some were clad in black, with gray hair gathered up in buns. They’d stay at home to cook, clean and catch afternoon soaps on TV. With aging fixed in our social consciousness, turning 50 meant living life through a rear view mirror.
Not so today. Greater affluence, increased life expectancy and access to higher education are part of the shift. Cheaper air travel, advances in technology and marital reorganizations add to a world where old norms are fading and new ones are popping up everywhere.
I recently learned about a ReMovement study conducted by Ketchum, the global PR and advertising giant, which surveyed habits of people 50 and over. Checking into its research, I discovered a demographic sounding a lot like me — especially when I noticed repeated use of the word “relevance”.
Ketchum’s study claims that today’s mid-lifers, whose kids have grown up and whose frenetic career stress is behind them, suddenly have time to reflect. Reflection time is translating into changes both in lifestyle and purchasing patterns.
The 50+ demographic is exchanging relationships, behaviors and brands that have lost relevance. This group is “removing” what isn’t adding value and replacing the voids with people and things they find “life-enhancing.”
My husband and I were early adopters of this life-enhancement concept, so I could definitely relate.
We were suburbanites in our forties presiding over a computer firm. Though our business had grown, it was progressively lacking in purpose. With our only child preparing for college, we decided to enhance our lives by creating new socially impactful careers. So we removed plenty. We sold our house, closed our firm and bought a smaller place. I used the opportunity to shed decades of excess “stuff”.
A new town house with low overhead made for easy maintenance and frequent travel. We filled the new space with purchases to support our future lifestyle and intended careers: furniture designed for less company, office spaces for two, my first baby grand piano and a sports car to replace a family-sized SUV.
Several questioned our sanity but, according to Ketchum’s ReMovement study, others are following in our wake. Whether its midlife malaise, dwindling opportunities in corporate careers or just free-wheeling spirits wanting to blaze innovative paths of their own, people 50 and over are replacing old norms with new ideas about what’s relevant.
Judy Hoberman, President of Selling In A Skirt, is part of this demo. She’s a trainer, coach and mentor of professional women who embraces and celebrates the 50+ ReMovement phenomena.
In her post-50 years, LindaJoy Rose, Ph.D., took her hypnotherapy expertise and extended it into raw fusion cooking as a means of improving her own health. Now the developer of Natural Wellness Academy, Rose provides holistic health and life coaching to a growing number of devotees.
“We rarely see images of people 50+ starting new learning and career adventures, yet a remarkable percentage of our certification candidates started their program over 50,” says Rose. “Not only are many baby boomers gearing up for new careers, but they are passionate about learning how to age gracefully, best support their health and pass this knowledge on to others.”
Formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP welcomes those 50 and over into its 38 million member roster. These days, an increasing number are neither “old” nor retired. Today, AARP touts Brad Pitt, Paula Abdul and rocker Bon Jovi across its magazine covers.
More affluent and educated than their predecessors, AARP’s new demographic accounts for a huge share of high end digital purchases, too. Jen Lee Reeves, AARP’s social communications trainer and strategist, brings innovative digital literacy programs to its members. She calls this demo both “flexible” and “eager to acquire new digital skills” especially when they’re deemed needed and, therefore, relevant.
Reflecting further upon the 50+ ReMovement trend, I didn’t have to look beyond my own husband. A midlife athlete and basketball junkie, Jim Sweeney plays locally three times a week and now travels globally to compete in his beloved sport.
The former three-time Boston College basketball captain now serves as Head of USA for FIMBA, the Federation of International Masters Basketball Association. Jim Sweeney devotes his time and travel dollars to stay in shape and compete in tournaments on several continents each year.
“I consider myself very fortunate to compete at age 58 — even if I am now iceberg quick. For me, there’s nothing better than traveling, talking trash and playing with my basketball buddies.”
Today’s 50+ demographic is bold, innovative and often embracing of change. People 50 and over are fast becoming more recognized for their influence, affluence and willingness to do things differently — and anew.
The Ketchum ReMovement study codifies and underscores an innovative, rather than reactive, new midlife demographic whose social, economic and business relevance remains heady. But for stalwart advertisers who ceased paying attention to midlife consumers, the study should serve as fair warning: Catch up with this new 50+ demographic . . . or they just might ReMove you as irrelevant.
Whatever your age, may your life be relevant — and happy, too!
Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out!”
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