AARP Shows How to Reach Boomers with Social Media

Compare the population pyramid of the USA whic...

Compare the population pyramid of the USA which was bulging until the 1960s and has steadily slimmed since. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those 77 million Baby Boom kids (born 1947-1964) are marching steadily into their “golden years,” which so happens to be prime time for major donations. AARP has been in front of the curve as the Boomers swell its ranks. A case study by Direct Marketing News explains how AARP has parlayed research findings into new directions for its Facebook and YouTube sites.

#PROAGING: Technology Can Encourage Socialization & Longevity

Social contact makes everyone happierPerhaps the greatest gift of life is the ability to share many its aspects with others. We have communication skills and empathies that can enliven mundane tasks and reinforce the greater joys and tragedies of the human experience. As social beings, we seek out these shared experiences from our earliest infancy to our later golden years. For many aging citizens, though, physical limitations and technological impositions can reduce opportunities for socialization, which in turn has been shown to decrease both life quality and life expectancy.

Most aging Americans want to live in their own homes as they age, but that desire also increases the likelihood of growing isolation and falling life quality. How might recent technological innovations keep seniors connected to their peers and their younger family members?

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#PROAGING: Olympics & Social Media Suggest Shrinking Digital Divide

The Social Olympics in LondonNBC might have gotten some bad press for giving away results before showing them tape-delayed in the lucrative hours of prime time. These Olympics have both been the ‘first Social Olympics’ and the first to struggle to understand what such instantaneous communication can mean to corporate and sporting interests. And, as it turns out, most of the griping is coming from the world of social networks. According to the Pew Research Center, 76% of Americans find the NBC communications conglomerate’s coverage excellent or good.

What are the numbers when age is taken into consideration?

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#PROAGING: Majority Of Senior Citizens Online & Many More Using E-Readers

The Pew Internet and American Life ProjectThe fine folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project marked a notable milestone in the history of electronic communications this past spring: “53% of American adults ages 65 and older use the internet or email. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, the latest data represent the first time that half of seniors are going online.” The crossing of the 50% mark means marketers and fundraisers really need to develop strategies to reach our retirees and senior citizens online. The percentages will only increase, of course, as ever more people who used the internet for work and/or play, and then those who grew up knowing few other means of communication, move toward 65. What else does the latest Pew report show us about Boomers and the internet?

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Is Your Organization Moving At The Speed Of Mobile?

Text messages are read within 15 minutes on smart phonesWith the rise of the smartphone and its ability to be the computer for millions of people around the world, mobile technology is becoming more powerful and less expensive every few months. And with those technological changes come changes of habit and expectation. One of the changes we and many others have commented on is the rise of text messaging as a medium not only to spread-the-word but also to raise funds for nonprofits and charities. The response to the American Red Cross’s texting campaign to deal with the horrors of the Haitian earthquake of 2010 is usually seen as the watershed event.

How has the nexus between cell-phone use and fundraising been strengthening over the last couple of years?

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#PROAGING: Technology Improves Exercise of Body And Brain

Exergaming improves physical and mental fitness - Photo from TheAtlantic.comLast week we introduced an AARP report encouraging the development of ‘Technology for All,’ namely, technology that includes the interests, expectations, and needs of Baby Boomers. Here is an example of how technology makes a common exercise machine that much more interesting and beneficial: a computer screen offering a virtual tour for a stationary biker.

Hans Villarica of TheAtlantic.com presented a report found in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine that brings computer screens and visual stimuli to recumbent bikers in elder-care homes. The experiment was to encourage exercise among residents on incumbent bikes – some used bikes with screens that monitored their effort and presented a ‘tour’ while others simply rode the bikes for the same amount of time.

Not surprisingly, those who got a tour on what the study calls ‘exergaming’ found the experience of exercising more pleasurable. But the long-term study also showed added cognitive benefits of having the tour inspire/follow the exercisers who had the computer addition. As Hans summarizes the study’s medical/statistical conclusion: “Even though there was no difference in exercise frequency, intensity, or duration between the two groups, the cybercycle riders had significantly better executive function than those who used a plain stationary bike. They also experienced a 23 percent reduction in progression to dementia compared to the control group.”

The addition is simple, the technology is not expensive, and the user gets physical, mental, and emotional benefits. What’s not to like?

 

#PROAGING: AARP Explores Benefits & Challenges of ‘Technology For All’

Technology and social media enrich the experience of retirementWith much fanfare, the first babyboomers moved into the official era of retirement last year as they celebrated 65 years of life. They were the first ripples of a ‘Silver Tsunami’ of Boomer retirees who will bring changes to entertainment, to Social Security, medical services, to retirement life. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) released a report calling on entrepreneurs, developers, and service providers to take on the challenges of bringing the myriad technologies (some of which were built by the Boomers) to everyone – including those over 50 who want to use those technologies but might need them modified. Is your organization developing its strategy for the near future?

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#SocialNetwork: Senior Living Communities See ROI On Social Media

Seniors working on a laptopOutreach to older Americans through social media might have once seemed a bit like trying to create an oasis in a desert: a great deal of effort lost in the sand. But survey after survey has demonstrated how use of social media has become an important part of the lives of millions of seniors. Which means numerous businesses that target seniors and their families have begun to develop strategies to reach out to those ever-growing constituencies and markets.

The folks at Glynn Devins Marketing have shared a keynote address that traces a case study they did with a local (Kansas) retirement community demonstrating the success of a drive on Facebook to increase ‘Likes’ and to offer donations as ever more people share their contact with that retirement community.

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#ProAging: GAP Index Highlights Global Challenges Of Care For Aging

Global Aging Preparedness Index IconThe fact of the aging of the global population is something our readers are likely at least acquainted with. The phenomenon has arisen as life expectancy has lengthened even in developing countries and populations in developed countries often are not having enough children even to replace themselves. The result is that most national populations whose citizens or subjects are over 60 are quickly moving toward 30%. To put that number in historical perspective, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) posits that, before the Twentieth Century, the percentage of inhabitants over 60 was 5-8%.

The CSIS released a sobering report earlier this year that measured the ‘Global Aging Preparedness’ (GAP) Index. The report stresses the demographic facts of the so-called ‘Silver Tsunami’ (a tide that can not now be turned, even if we all started having larger families) and the current economic situations of a number of countries both rich and poor, both developed and developing. So how did the US do?

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#ProAging: A Few Gift Ideas For Older Family Members

Earlier today we posted a story concerning DoSomething.org’s drive, ‘Grandparents Gone Wired.’ In the process of working up that story we came across this brief list of gift ideas for some of those same grandparents: A Grandparents’ Tech Gift Guide. The blogger who is developing the list is Michele McGraw of northern Virginia, and her site, ‘Scraps of My Geek Life’, is one of the cuter and more engaging tech blogs we’ve come across.

The list for grandparents seems to be growing, and she also has Tech Gift Guides for Moms, young teens, and Bloggers (I’d like the iPhone 4S, please). All of these lists include her brief comments/reviews and she solicits reviews from her readers. Well worth a look, and it’s refreshing to see a site savvy to technology in its various guises with a fun and family-focused aura.

#ProAging: Spending Time With Grandparents This Holiday

Looking for a way to spend time with your (grand)parents this holiday season, whether you are seated in the same room or across the continent? The folks at DoSomething.org are launching a new program for this holiday season: ‘Grandparents Gone Wired‘. The program is designed to encourage (grand)children to spend time with their elder family members by helping their (grand)parents get settled into a Facebook account or by setting up video chat via Skype.

The program has the added benefit of encouraging a little face-to-face-in-the-same-space time during the holiday season as you negotiate the accounts and tinker with the hardware together. Registration via email or mobile phone is all it takes, and DoSomething promises to start sharing ideas and stories beginning today (the program runs through the 30th). Participants with the best advice enjoy the opportunity to win a new iPad, iTunes Gift Cards, and even a $500 academic scholarship.

Though the pitch is clearly thrown toward teens and their grandparents, the program could be just as helpful for adults wanting to connect technologically with their parents. I have registered and will report on the first few notices. True, the use of social-networking platforms by older Americans has exploded in the last couple of years, but everyone can use some help honing skills or learning new tricks.

We’ll share some of our ideas and experiences at DoSomething, and we hope you do too. And we hope you will share them here as well. We’ll certainly share them over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

#ProAging: Celebrating The Senior Games As Winter Approaches

Doctors, teachers, and athletes encourage us all to get more exercise. For many of us, our springtime means the energy to start a program to get fit and overcome the initial discomforts. As we enter our summer months, the foundation of better health has been set, and we begin to push some of our boundaries. The shortening days of fall might dissuade some of us, but the weather remains warm enough to keep us moving. Besides, winter could prove a notable setback, so we better give an extra push now.

But what about the seasons of our lives? Are we building a solid foundation in our earlier decades to encourage an active and engaged senior life? Many seniors are even competing in an Olympic-style festival that can inspire us all.

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#ProAging: SM Savvy Encourages Cross-Generational Connection

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With Thanksgiving a mere 36+ hours away (30 of which might be spent in a ticket line or sitting on a runway or hoping the traffic finally gets moving), we are all thinking about re-connecting to family and old friends. That we do so via social networking platforms has become the assumption among the Millennials and the Gen-Xers, whether in the holiday season or not. The social networking demands of these generations encourage them to keep up with the latest technologies as well – not a bad thing for the economy.

What happens to the previous-generation phones and laptops as younger Americans buy the latest-and-greatest? One thing that happens to them is they become ‘hand-me-ups’.

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#Health: Study Shows Advantages Of Conversation No One Wants

Remember Obama’s Death Panels? No, they didn’t exist. But like ‘cooties,’ the scared and the immature just kept repeating that they were waiting to snatch us up. What the Healthcare Reform Bill wanted to institute was the opportunity – nay, the expectation – for families to have regular consultations with their doctors about end-of-life/palliative care that would per force be covered by insurance.

Healthcare Reform became law in the early days of 2010, and we have been litigating it ever since – and no one has found any mention of a death panel. But even requiring insurance companies to pay doctors for these end-of-life consultations has proven to be a political hot potato – even though evidence of their efficacy is mounting.

A report from a group of oncologists from Sweden is the latest study to show the benefits of having a frank discussion about what treatments are working, what are not working, and what options/opportunities the patient has. The abstract of the report, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, can be found here (a subscription to the Journal is required to read the full report).

Fortunately, Paula Span of The New York Times discusses the full report and talks with Dr. Gunilla Lundquist, a palliative care specialist at Umea University and lead author of the study. One of the hard truths of the report is that about 70% of people who have that tough conversation about their terminal conditions die at home and among loved ones, in contrast to under 40% who do not have that conversation yet do not die in a hospital.

Paula Span also steps into the cultural and political difficulties of getting such a study done in the US, or even discussing the Swedish report. Instead, we’ll invoke the Bogie Panel to ensure our freedom from everything, except fear.

 

#ProAging: AARP Busts Some Social Security Myths

As we enter ‘crazy time’ in the electoral calendar (a calendar that now runs from the Friday after the last election to the day of the next one), we will hear ever more about the desperate need to balance the federal budget and pay down the national debt. Few will strongly argue against these budget-balancing ambitions. The arguments are over just how to do that.

Social Security payouts make up some 20% of the federal budget, tied with national defense and one percentage point behind Medicare/Medicaid. Yet Social Security is usually singled out as one of the three federal line items that must be trimmed (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and … um … oops.). The American Association of Retired Persons challenges five of the most commonly-stated myths about the state of Social Security, even in the midst of the economic malaise we continue to struggle with.

Myth Number One? Not surprisingly: Social Security is going bankrupt. According to AARP, that scary claim is untrue no matter how you divvy up the dollars. “Even in the unlikely event that nothing changes and the program’s entire surplus runs out in 2036, as projected, checks would keep coming. Payroll taxes at current rates would cover 77 percent of all the future benefits promised. That’s true for young and old alike, and includes inflation adjustments.”

Read the other four myths and the facts that refute them at AARP’s site. Then you can make an informed decision about how to vote in 2012, and how to plan for your retirement after that.