Australia's media is about to experience a bonanza. A quarter of our population will soon be aged over 60. More than half of these seniors will be women and we have money to spend. A media advertising department's dream come true.
Many of us will be retired and have the opportunity to indulge ourselves – at last we have time for a relaxed and luxurious lifestyle. Fashion, beauty, restaurants, cars, travel, technology, appliances, home décor, caravans and boats are all in the mix. Where do we look to find out what is on offer? We study advertisements in publications, online and on television.
A note here for advertising agencies associated with the media. Please portray older women honestly and use actors and models who actually are older women. There are plenty of good-lookers in the 60 to 80 age group. We are irritated when we see 50 year olds pretending to be senior citizens. Talking of irritation, here is a suggestion for the print media in two words. PROOF READ. We of a certain age have been properly educated and recoil when we see grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. "Eight-four percent" was amusing missing the T in Retin-A rendered the sentence meaningless.
I frequently see pieces about famous and beautiful women; Quentin Bryce, Ita Buttrose, Margaret Fulton, Blanche d'Alpuget et al. It is not necessary to quote their age and give the public the opportunity to measure their appearance against their age. Note that my book "Health & Beauty Tips for Women Aged between 60 & 80" is not about looking younger; it is about looking beautiful whatever your age. Beauty editors, please extend your age range to 80. Even though my recent book partially fills the gap, we are still desperate for advice.
Most journalists are younger than 60, however this might change when we have to work until we are 70! Observation tells me that young ones struggle to understand that older folk are exactly the same as they are except that we look different. Young journalists don't seem to understand us very well and I suspect that this is the reason why so much in the media is patronising.
Why express surprise when describing the lady celebrating her 100th birthday because she looks so glamourous? Of course she looks glam. It's a big party. There will be photographs, the press will be there and even the Queen is involved. A moment's research would have informed the journalist that the party girl had been an icon of the fashion industry for more than 70 years!
When reporting on older people leading busy and productive lives, why focus how unusual this is? If we are still in the land of the living we are likely to continue being busy and occupied because it is as normal for oldies as it is for young folk. Do try not to treat what is normal as surprising or unusual. We dislike a condescending attitude most of all.
A major topic for ongoing commentary is how our poor health is breaking the bank. I see a wonderful journalistic opportunity here to criticise the medical industry for prolonging our lives so that we can spend more time in nursing homes. Pneumonia was once described as "the old person's friend" because it quietly took us during the cold of the winter. Pneumonia saved the government millions.
Hundreds of thousands of us actually enjoy near-perfect health and fly under the radar of the huge medical industry that exists for us. Perhaps there is a good news story here. The media must report sensibly on health matters that concern older folk. Most of us, for all the talk of living to 100, only have a limited number of good years left. Stories about what's good for our health and the latest obscure research results are likely to flow over us like water off a duck's back.
Seniors are avid consumers of media, newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online. We are particularly fond of current affairs programs because we enjoy being up to date with the latest controversy, politics, crime, scandal, conflict, disasters and of course issues that relate to our age group. We adore Sudoku and word puzzles – pay attention here, because the puzzles often influence our choice of publication.
As we come closer and closer to becoming influential in shaping Australian life, I urge the media to find out more about what makes us tick, our attitudes, expectations, interests, what we like and dislike and what we want from the media. Seniors' issues already comprise much media content and this is only going to increase. Take advantage of the prosperity and opportunity which, with the right approach, is coming your way.
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