Dimensions of Health and the Older Adult

HCS 433 Dimensions of Health and the Older Adult

Negative Portrayals of the Senior Citizen

  • The Older Individual Alive and Surviving in Our World Today

Looking over the unattractive terms society-at-large has decided to pin on older adults, many of them are quite demeaning. Many of today’s elderly are portrayed negatively as foolish, doddering, victims, or sometimes even villains. This type of attitude conveys strongly as emotional and physical losses were observed along with those of a physical nature (Sohngen & Smith, 1978). It is sad to witness the undesirable characters on the television, as many older folks are politically motivated. They are even seen at various sit-in’s, the March to Selma was loaded with senior-aged activists for what they believed was the right thing to do. However, as we watch some of the television commercials¸ they are shown as being quite old-fashioned, possessing umpteen medical maladies (Harris & Feinberg, 1977). Also they are rarely ever shown and a companionship or shall we say an interpersonal relationship with another person. Rather, the television commercials show them as requiring certain types of age-retarding products (Francher, 1973).

Out of 80 commercials involving 198 actors and actresses, they were assessed and calculated as follows Harris & Feinberg 1977):

Advertising clothing none over 40

Appliancesonly 01 over 60

Personal care & cosmeticsonly 01 over 60

Automobilesnone of 60

Foodonly 03 over 60.

The authors determined that advertisers purposely limited their use (older characters) because of the information they received on surveys believing the older models as “poor copy.” Even more so revolting is how and when the female species was considered. According to Francher (1973), he discovered the women to be portrayed in less-than-favorable-light, or less than attractive roles. Perusing a study of some television advertising shown in conjunction with children’s entertainment-type programs, it was demonstrated that the elderly females were shown relentlessly in small numbers and mostly in domestic-type roles. Perish the thought that a female should be shown in a favorable light, such as at a senior or management role.

This is certainly true in real life (Serock, 1979). Even so most senior citizens had something favorable to contribute regarding television advertisements (Schreiber and Boyd, 1980). Some of them even stated that they thought the older people were portrayed in a positive light.

Advertising Age Report on Japan’s Senior Citizens

As we read the various articles in Advertising Age (April 24, 2000), the information on Japan’s senior citizens came into sight. According to this information, the senior citizen population will be one of the front-runners in its country’s buying power. They are predicting this group will spend well over $1 trillion that explains a report issued by Japan’s giant in advertising (Dentsu). The over-60 group is said to represent more than half of Japan’s consumer-base that gives them tremendous buying power for one thing. According to the advertising agency in Japan they are estimating that this group will have the ability can spend up to $817 billion during this year.

Those sectors most likely to benefit from the senior or aging group would be housing and real estate, automobiles, education, and medical services. Japan’s aging seniors are anticipated to cause major future changes in the media and trigger a tense and volatile expansion in the markets that up to this point, were not anticipated by the forecast, according to Dentsu. Their report also confirmed that the Japanese seniors of this period continue leading very healthy and energetic lives and remain an ever-increasing ability to make major positive changes in their search for high-end items and services

Desensitizing the Aging Process

The desensitization of the process of aging and the terms used by those in the advertising field, entertainment area of Live Theatre, the printed media (particularly those comic strips depicting an elderly person) and of course the movies. There is nothing more comedic or pitifully staged as a doddering older person stumbling around a stage, purposefully acting foolish, senile, and many times with a drink of something in their hands. On occasion, the director will add a cigarette/cigar/pipe . . . whatever, to the person’s “character.” When asked why this was done, I was given an almost incredulous look and answered, “Why? WHY? For effect, my Dear. For effect,” in a very affected voice.

Frankly speaking, this writer can think of a couple of better examples on how to portray a senior citizen (for comedic value) and especially if it is a person involved in a drama (such as Virginia Wolff. What a show-stopper that would be! (However, in all sincerity, I hope they never touch “Maxine” comic strips because of some of the concepts she has, her touch of fashion, the demeanor with which she greets life and her attitude in general says to those who criticize, “Tough!”

Therefore, suffice to say, enough has been said pertaining to advertising as they choose to depict the older person can be, at times, both humorous, and degrading. What price do they put on a senior citizen, a silver fox, a Gray Panther, and the many other terms used in the description of the elderly person? In retrospect may we add thank goodness for the thought-provoking, delightful, the dee-lovely Maxine.

Enter the Baby Boomers

Our parents, grandparents, relatives, were mostly from the Silent Generation. Now we have in our midst another group of individuals as current members of a special generation. They are called the Baby Boomer Generation and were born from 1946 to 1964, which means the first of them born in 1946 are presently 67 years old and may be classified as senior citizens. The majority of these senior citizens rank among those who hold the job associated with power and authority.

Today, they are classified as being a part constituting a huge majority of leaders in law firms, a large group of corporate executives, paralegals (senior-type) and legal managers. Baby Boomers are said to incorporate nearly 70% of the partners in most law firms. Just about 80 million Baby Boomers are expected to leave their work within the next 10 years. They are currently leaving and retiring at about the rate of 8,000 each day that averages out to about a little more than 300 employees per hour. This loss in the legal profession may have a dramatic impact in the legal industry, as they lose all of those skilled individuals as they enter retirement. Although they have been labeled as being not motivated, here are some of the major characteristics of today’s Baby Boomers:

They are extremely motivated by their hard work in positions that go along with power, perks, and the prestige that goes with them. Baby Boomers are independent, self-reliant, and confident with themselves. They were brought up in a time of reform and they firmly believe they could change their existing world. They are the group (predominantly) who have the audacity to question “The Establishment,” authority systems and are definitely in line to challenge the status quo. Without hesitation, Baby Boomers working in the legal profession are ready and able to challenge established practices and have no fear of confrontation.

These members of the Generation X group are achievement-based, career-focused, and dedicated to their profession. Baby Boomers welcome challenging and exciting projects, and try to achieve making a difference with whatever they are involved in or doing.

Some people want or like competition. Baby Boomers are competitive as they equate what they do (their work) and position with self-worth. They strive to be clever and resourceful, and definitely compete relentlessly to win. This group believes in “face time” while working at the office and find disfavor with those younger generations who choose to work remotely.

Positively the Golden Bear

Reading this article on the Golden Bear who, it seems can do relatively nothing wrong when concerned with swinging at a golf ball or taking a chance on opening up another business, it is apparent he has a golden energy in business. This new venture of Arnold Palmer’s will be some type of clothing line that will bring to mind memories or thinking from the past. His holding company, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, holds business projects and other selling ventures from wine to a sunscreen product(s). At 82 years, the Golden Bear is striking hard at getting in touch with another generation (Generation Y perhaps) of fans who had not even been born when he was making his name in the pro-golf circuit. He is positioning his new clothing line for acceptance and success mainly with the younger fans to ensure the popularity and achievement of this endeavor.

In that way his advisors have assured him this intended marketing venture will continue to progress to a successful “road tour” for 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now. “We are at a crucial point in Mr. Palmer’s career,” according to Cori Britt, Vice President of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. This clothing line will emulate the type of clothing worn by the Golden Bear when he was slamming extraordinary golf games and winning his green Master’s Jackets in the 1960s. He is pursuing to experience once more the energy of spirit that catapulted him into Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine’s choices of “The 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time.” As Gentlemen’s Quarterly printed, “Mr. Palmer marshaled his own army by uniting golf with charisma at a moment when the sport’s most-popular fan was President Eisenhower.

Arnie’s Army was, indeed, an army of devoted fans and admirers as they followed him through the links of the thousands of golf courses where he racked himself more prestige, power, and skill (Advertising Age, December 5, 2011, issue by E. J. Schultz).