(Editor's note:  Roger Scime is a good friend of ours here at Great Places, having worked with us for several intriguing months as we optimized the website.  We truly welcome this guest blog from him.  You may contact him at

I'm the invisible man. I turned 62 in September, and in any group younger than 30, no one notices me, nobody listens to me, it's as if I'm, well . . . invisible.

I first noticed this in 2003, when I was a mere 54 years old and decided to go back to school for my Master's degree. Most of my fellow grad students were in their 20s-30s, and immediately made friends, bonded, grouped, swarmed. I tried joining in as naturally and unobtrusively as possible. Occasionally I would offer advice on one subject or another, which the youngsters would accept willingly, then turn their backs as my existence faded from their consciousnesses. 

I finally managed to make a few friends, upon offering to host a field trip to a nearby city where an event was occurring. Everybody seemed to have a good time, but only two exchange students—one from
China, one from India—showed any interest in continuing any kind of relationship. I asked my Indian friend about this just a few months ago, and he said, "In India, we look upon those older than us with respect, something Americans don't seem to be capable of."

I'm currently taking MBA classes (we seniors seem to be addicted to learning. Go figure), and the professor had us self-select into groups of 3-4 for the final project of the class. I went from group to group, offering my services (a highly desirable one, for which none of the others were prepared), practically begging to join one or another, but I was—for all intents and purposes—ignored.

Finally, an exchange student from
Bangladesh, asked me to join his group. Mind you, I didn't have to ask, beg, or abase myself. He just asked. Do you sense a pattern here?

Well, we're working on his project (a business plan for a multimillion- dollar hospital in
Bangladesh), and I'm making my contribution as wordsmith, editor, and social-media facilitator. Additionally, he's invited me to a cocktail party tonight, where Angels and other investors will be present. He told me he wants somebody mature there representing his venture and I was the best person he knew to be the face of his company.

It's a shame I'm invisible to my own countrymen, but not to others.

The Baby Boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is the largest in American history, its numbers nearly 80 million—or about one-third of the country’s population.  Its size—and buying power—have captured the attention of marketers, eager to capture the interest of this generally affluent group.  Along with the mystique of the Baby Boomers, a variety of myths have sprung up over the years.  Here are some of them—and the reality!

Myth #10:  Boomers are retiring early.  When the first Boomers started to turn 65 and began to take down their Social Security benefits, recent studies have shown that only about one in 10 Boomers will stop working entirely when they reach retirement age.   

Myth #9:  Boomers are downsizing their homes.  Not true!  Once again, studies have shown that only about six percent of Boomers are planning to be living in a smaller residence within the next five years.   

Myth #8: Most Boomers are married empty nesters.  Only about one in four Boomers are married with kids who’ve left home.  More than one-third still have children under 18 at home; an equal number are single.   

Myth #7:  You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising.  Wrong again!  While Boomers pay attention to advertising, two-thirds of them say that ads are too crude for their taste, and they’re less likely to buy a product if they consider the advertising offensive.

Myth #6:  Boomers are brand loyal and will not switch.  Actually, Boomers are just like the general population:  They’ll eagerly experiment with new products.  More than half agree with the statement, “In today’s marketplace, it doesn’t pay to be loyal to one brand.”   

Myth #5:  All Boomers are wealthy.  Although collectively Boomers are America’s wealthiest generation in history, fewer than 10 percent are considered to be affluent; indeed, 25 percent of Boomers have no savings or investments.   

Myth #4:  Boomers are winding down.  Nope!  The typical Boomer regularly engages in at least 10 activities.  More than one-half take at least one trip annually, and 22 million of them attend live sporting events. 

Myth #3.  Boomers are technologically challenged.  In fact, Boomers were in the workforce during the advent of computers, e-mail and the Internet, and they’re the first to understand the importance of technology.  In fact, more than 80 percent of Boomers routinely use the Internet, and they use it for instant messaging, downloading music and videos, financial activities, and online gaming.  

Myth #2.  Boomers are the "Me” Generation.  Uh-uh.  Boomers are caring for others, including their own parents—the “Greatest Generation” and their own offspring, and 70 percent report that they have a responsibility to make the world “a better place.”

Myth #1.  Boomers are all the same.  Although the media claim that the Boomer generation is a monolith, fact is, more changes occur during our lives between the ages of 50 and 65 than at any other time—careers, family, finance, health, all of which can significantly impact on attitudes, life goals, and consumer behavior. 

Bottom line:  Understanding the truths underlying these myths can help marketers develop products, craft strategies, and develop messages that will resonate with this generation—the largest and most affluent in our country’s history. 

I’m mad as hell about the way our elderly population—our parents, relatives, all our senior relatives and friends—are shoved aside, tormented, victimized and abused.  That shoving, tormenting, victimizing and abuse of helpless elders happens most often at home.  Not in nursing homes, although the abuse that happens there frequently captures headlines, but at home, where the family dynamic can camouflage mistreatment.  According to the American Psychological Association

"Most elder abuse and neglect takes place at home. The great majority of older people live on their own or with their spouses, children, siblings, or other relatives--not in institutional settings. When elder abuse happens, family, other household members, and paid caregivers usually are the abusers. Although there are extreme cases of elder abuse, often the abuse is subtle, and the distinction between normal interpersonal stress and abuse is not always easy to discern."

A Great Places reader, who's following the Senior Watchdog blog, shares her story of familial abuse.  We learn from her experience that the impact, the guilt and the shame, can last for decades.

"I can’t remember whether it was sunny or cloudy that August morning when the phone rang.  The only thing I remember for sure is that it was Rachel, my niece, on the line.  Rachel was 50 that year, but she looked at least 80: smoking, drug abuse, and most recently, methamphetamine addiction, had left her toothless and wrinkled.  Her voice was deep and raspy that morning. 'Your sister is back in the hospital, Aunt Edna.' 'Oh no, her heart again?' 'No.  Elaine is in surgery.' 'For what?' 'Aunt Edna, she had a bedsore and they had to operate.'

"My heart sank. I’m a nurse. I know that if it’s necessary to operate on a bedsore, the situation is dangerous. I immediately set out on the four-hour drive to the small-town hospital. When I arrived, my sister was in the intensive care unit, hooked up to IVs and drainage tubes. I looked at the pump discharge from her draining bedsore and realized it was serious.

"For several months I had pleaded with Elaine to go to a nursing home.  She refused: 'You’re not going to talk me into moving into a nursing home. I’ve heard enough horrid stories about those places.' This time, though, she agreed that I could look for one. When I asked whether Rachel had abused her, she turned away from me and whispered, 'No.'  I didn’t believe her. I discovered that the hospital had sent the police to her home to investigate the possibility that Elaine was being abused. Not surprisingly, neither Rachel nor Elaine admitted anything.

"My sister was suffering; the infection in her bedsore was beyond belief. When I got ready to leave, I promised that I’d be back soon, and told her how much I loved her. She said, 'I love you, too, Sis.' Soon after I got home, the hospital administrator called and told me that Elaine had died.

"I know that my sister died of abuse and neglect—not in a nursing facility, but in her own home. Elaine died of Seniorcide. It breaks my heart to say this. I should have been more assertive and taken her to a nursing home. I feel the guilt every day."

We at Great Places
are appalled by how our seniors are victimized--and we won't be quiet when family members abuse infirm seniors. 

The SENIOR WATCHDOG is on the case.  

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