Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Deal With It

I read an op-ed recently about how millennials should deal with baby boomers at work that was so patronizing that at first I thought it was meant to be humor.

Here are some phrases that stood out:

What are the best practices for handling their [baby boomers] Luddism and fragile egos?

And don't talk to boomers as if their methods (even the ancient ones) are stupid.

… don't mock their clueless questions.

Recognize that baby boomers have a lot of fear and anger about technology, and tread gently.

…baby boomers love to be heard and admired.

If you are tempted to roll your eyes, carefully fix your gaze on your computer until the feeling has passed.

Seriously? It’s that hard to work with baby boomers. Fragile egos? More fragile than a millennial’s?

This whole business of the generations coexisting in the workplace is getting tired. Young people have been working for and with older workers since forever. The only thing that’s really changed in the last 10 years or so is the large number of tech start-up businesses that were founded and run by twenty-somethings. Unlike generations past, we now have twenty-five year-olds in charge of large corporate entities and they tend to hire employees who are the same age or younger. The products are cutting edge apps for social media or entirely new software products. Once these businesses are up and running, there is often a need for more experienced or seasoned employees to handle certain aspects of the business (e.g. financial, distribution, marketing). Enter the boomers.

To be fair, the author of the op-ed was addressing how millennials in more conventional workplaces with boomer dominated cultures should make an effort to get along with their overlords. But as already noted, this is not a new “problem” that requires advanced training in socialization. Sons and daughters have been working for mothers and fathers without internecine warfare for quite some time now. It has not always been friction free, but on balance, it has managed to sort itself out with few casualties. Soon millennials will be in charge and the next generation will be writing op-eds on how to manage the fogies.

And so it goes.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Keep Boomers on the Job

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Yep, that’s us. At least those of us who are still Boy Scouts. But is this any reason to keep us on the job?

It doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of merit badges, but there are some other more compelling reasons for employers to hang on to their baby boomers as long as they can.

Let’s take the most obvious reasons first. Boomers have experience. We’ve been working at some of these jobs for 30 to 40 years. Not trying to be mean here, but the 21 year-old new hire does not have a clue about how to do the job a boomer can do.

Next, we’ve got leadership skills. We’ve worked our way up the ladder because we know how to direct and motivate people. We may not have been natural leaders but we learned how to grow into that role and make it our own.

Perspective? Check. We’ve seen a lot of change, ideas that came and went. It’s not that we’re going to stand in your way, but we can tell you what happened when we tried a new idea and it didn’t work. We’re open to new possibilities without going all in for the first idea that someone has proposed.

How about credibility? A boomer with 30 years or more of experience can talk to clients or customers with the kind of gravitas that younger employees only wish they had. A little gray hair can command respect as well as give off confidence.

Then there’s the fact that boomers have some serious interpersonal skills. We’re talking person to person, not text to text or email to email. Getting face to face to resolve a conflict, negotiate an agreement or persuade someone to try something new….boomers have had lots of time to perfect those skills in real time with real people.

Lastly, but almost more important than any other quality, boomers are adaptable. We may not know what social media platform is going red hot at the moment --- Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, whatever --- we have managed to learn about loads of apps and technologies just to keep up. So while you may not see us as early adopters we are definitely constant adapters.

All that and we can light a fire with 2 pieces of wood.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get On the Bus Gus

Uber may be giving the taxi biz a run for its money, but seriously, how often can you call Uber when you need a ride? The cost of that door-to-door service can add up fast.

Maybe that’s why public transit companies are betting that aging boomers are going to be their next best friends. Take LA for example (I know, the cute answer to that one is, “no, you take LA”). They expect to see a huge increase in ridership by boomers. Right now, only 6 percent of its riders are over 65, even though seniors make up 12 percent of the county’s population.

Will it take longer to get where you want to go? Yes. Is that still a viable option when you no longer can or want to drive your own car? Yes.

And they really are aiming to please. They have more elevators in their stations, more priority seating on the buses, and offer training to seniors on how to use the system. There’s even a book with detailed directions for how to go on 24 sightseeing adventures using only public transit.

So if you’re still driving now and will be for the foreseeable future, do you really think that when the time comes, you’ll take the bus? I have to think about that. But when I think about it long enough, my answer is yes. Paying a car service every time is going to rack up quite a bill and if the bus is filled with other aging boomers who can no longer drive, how bad can it be? Okay, it won’t be like Ken Kesey’s Magic Bus (or if we are all vaping the ganja, maybe it will), but if you can get to the grocery, the doctor or the movie theater for a low relative cost, that may not be so bad. Listening to the guy who talks to himself for the entire ride might be enlightening, if not entertaining.

You’ve got plenty of time to think this through, but when the time does come, you might as well hop on the bus Gus.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rebranding

The latest trend in the senior center biz is an effort to rebrand these centers so that they will be more attractive to aging boomers. First thing to go? The word “senior.” Boomers are avoiding anything with that name attached to it except when it comes to grabbing discounts at restaurants and movie theaters.

What else is in store for these hubs formerly known as “senior centers?” How about bistro-style cafes, Zumba classes, cooking classes, power yoga and fitness programs. These activities lead the list of add-ons meant to appeal to boomers.

Is it working? Sort of. More boomers are checking out the offerings but the over 70 crowd that makes up the bulk of users isn’t so happy about the changes. They’ve been called seniors for a long time and really don’t have a problem with that label. In fact, they are often proud to be considered “senior citizens.” And they like being driven in vans to movies and plays, playing cards and other social activity mainstays.

When name changes for the centers are proposed in some instances, the current “senior” population revolts and fights to keep the word “senior” in the name. Some of those 80-year olds can get kind of testy when they’re feeling oppressed. Calling boomers the Silver Tsunami and using the Latin word for silver (argentum) doesn’t sit well with the older patrons who resent being pushed to perimeter to make room for the crop of boomers these centers hope to attract.

While I can appreciate that senior centers and assisted living facilities want to lure us boomers in, they might end up between a rock and a hard place. Seventy-somethings have much different priorities than eighty-somethings. Maybe senior centers just need to remain senior centers and boomers get their own satellite Starbucks-like meeting places where they can hang with their tablets, smart phones and gadgets while they ponder whether or not they want to join a Zumba class going on in the back room or take a cooking class.

And then again, maybe we can just starting calling them Friction Centers.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

DIY Is Going DIFM

The big-box retailers who counted on baby boomers to do it themselves are seeing a change among their boomer customers. There might have been a time when boomers relished the thought of doing their own bathroom make-over or kitchen cabinet refinishing. We were all over that backsplash replacement and ceiling fan installation. Firepit for the backyard? Sure. Building our own deck? Why not?

Boomers still make up the largest percentage of customers at Home Depot and Lowes, and with millennials still struggling to buy their own homes, that demographic profile is unlikely to change soon. What is changing is the boomer population’s lack of motivation to continue taking on these DIY tasks. We’ve got better things to do, places to go, people to see. Enter DIFM --- Do-It-For-Me.

Look for this trend to manifest itself in many retail categories. Boomers may want someone to buy their clothing, collect their groceries and pick out their office supplies. We sure as hell are going to need someone to set up our home theater and our content streaming devices because those gadgets are heading way north of our comprehension at this point. Same goes for our smart phones and tablets (visit a Verizon Wireless store and count the number of helpless boomers who are stuck there for hours trying to figure out how to get their email).

With internet-based industries offering grocery delivery and car services, there is less and less need for baby boomers to lift a finger – except maybe to dictate a request to their smart phone. Drone deliveries are sure to be in our near future, which could mean that everything from a 3-ring notebook to a pizza can be in the front yard in less than 30 minutes.

When I think about it, this propensity to allow others to make our purchases and installations for us will mesh perfectly for the day when we need assisted living arrangements. Once you get used to concierge shopping and home repairs, it’s not much of a leap to someone bathing you and preparing your meals.

Maybe we’re rushing this DIFM thing.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Drive

It may seem like a long way off, but have you thought about the day when you won’t be able to drive your own car anymore? A lot of boomers are already avoiding night driving because of the discomfort they feel about fading vision and headlight glare. Most of us have read about children taking away granddad’s car keys after he’s gotten into 4 or 5 minor accidents, and we think, that poor bastard hates not being able to drive anywhere whenever he wants to -- bummer!

Now put yourself in the poor bastard’s place. Someone (a relative, the motor vehicle department, etc.) tells you that it’s no longer safe for you to be behind the wheel. You’ve been driving since you were 16 or 17 years old.…maybe 50 plus years. The sense that you’ve lost all mobility (the 4-wheeled kind) must be a royal freak out. Sure, you can get friends, family, neighbors and car services to take you where you need/want to go. But it’s not the same as sliding behind the wheel and flooring it down the highway.

Here’s a comforting thought. Fatal crash rates are higher for older drivers. Mostly because they don’t heal as well as younger drivers. The older drivers that do give up the keys voluntarily are afraid to get in a car with a driver who’s over 75 or 80, and who can blame them. You might as well get in a car with a teenager who’s texting the whole time. For those who do give up their keys voluntarily, they are twice as likely to suffer from depression as a result. Can’t we catch a break!

It’s ironic that many boomers are looking forward to retirement as a time to travel and enjoy life, but if that includes driving a massive RV off the side of a mountain on a moonless night, maybe staying on the job and taking the bus is a better option.

Perhaps driverless cars will advance to the point where older drivers can depend on them to go where they want, when they want. We can hobble out to the garage, get a teenaged neighbor to figure out how to program the GPS controller (or tell Siri) and boogie down to Walmart at midnight. Then we get in one of those motorized shopping carts and cruise the aisles all night long. Even if we buy nothing and go home, it will be a great evening of independent living.

I may be ready now.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

It's Over

I looked on with curiosity as the tourist paced back and forth in front of the hotel, towing his rolling suitcase. A bellman often sees some strange behavior in Las Vegas, so it didn’t make a big impression. Then I remembered the envelope the pretty woman gave me no more than a half hour ago.

“Excuse me sir. Is your name Donald?” I asked the man. His forehead was sweaty and he appeared to be very nervous.

“Yes, yes. My name is Donald. Do you know where my wife is? She was supposed to meet me here a half hour ago. She wanted to try her luck at poker table one more time. I’m getting scared that something has happened to her. It’s not like her to be late.”

“She told me I might see you here and that I should give you this envelope.”

Donald tore the envelope open and read the note inside. After the minute it took to read it, he let it fall to the ground, walked over to the taxi stand. He opened the door for himself, threw the suitcase on the seat and followed it into the cab. The vehicle shot out of the driveway and onto the Strip.

I picked up the discarded envelope and note and saw that it was written in a bold cursive style that read as follows:

“Donald, I’m sorry if my disappearance caused any panic on your part, but I felt as though there was no other way out. I needed to escape our marriage and going home with you to discuss it would have only prolonged the inevitable end. You would have tried to save a lost cause with suggestions that we get counseling or try some other hopeless intervention. I’ve cashed in the airline ticket and will be flying to another destination – not home. You will find that my sister has removed all my personal belongings from the house. My lawyer will be in touch to begin divorce proceedings. I presume that all of this comes as a great shock to you, but that is really the whole point. You never seemed to grasp what I was feeling or what I was looking for in our marriage, so I took this drastic action as a last resort – the only way for me to make a clean break and a clean start. You should see it as an opportunity to do the same. Patricia.”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reinventioners?

Ha! Boomers are supposed to be reinvention experts. Why? Because instead of riding off into the golden years sunset, we continue to work, start new business ventures or change careers. Somehow that makes us experts?

Not buying it. Just like millennials who are struggling to deal with the cards they’ve been dealt, baby boomers too are adjusting to the reality of their situation. If the company you work for wants you to retire but you still need the income, you become a teacher. Or start that business you always dreamed of owning. Or drive a school bus. Or become a big box store greeter.

Boomers are not so much reinventing themselves as they are recalibrating their expectations of what the aging experience is going to be for them. The percentage of people 55 and older in the workforce back in 1993 was 29%. Fast forward to 2013 and that number has jumped to more than 40%. Sure, the big wave of the oldest boomers has a lot to do with that increase, but changing attitudes towards retirement may be an even bigger factor.

The whole gold watch send-off seems so anachronistic now, and it might have something to do with the changing attitudes toward work itself. The parents of baby boomers may have felt like they were marking time until the day that they could quit and hit the shuffleboard courts. Work wasn’t their passion as much as it was a means to an end. I’m generalizing (as always), but most boomers enjoyed their careers and liked the idea that they were really good at it or that they made a valuable contribution. You don’t just shut that off one day and hang up your toolbelt.

I like to think that what boomers are going to do in the years ahead is redefine rather reinvent. And that makes sense when you think about it, because baby boomers have been redefining things since the day we came into the world. Education, music, art, communication, politics, you name it --- there is no field or endeavor that has not felt the effect of the baby boomer revolution. We were – we are – products of our time. The prosperous years after WWII afforded us the opportunity to make a unique mark on society, so it should be no surprise that we continue to exhibit that behavior. Just don’t make us out to be reinvention experts. We’re just reacting to the times the same way we always have.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Elder Orphans?

Circle the wagons pioneers, elder orphans are coming!

Is this now a thing? Baby boomers who are childless and unmarried are going to become “elder orphans” who have no one to care for them in old age. The fact that we’re living longer and have fragmented families puts us at risk of being all alone in our not so golden years…orphaned.

The case of the 81-year-old cancer patient who called 911 because he needed someone to buy him food has put a lot of folks on notice that this elder orphan thing is real. As more boomers fall into this demographic, it’s not just a matter of struggling with isolation and depression. It’s going to put a strain on the health care system. Who will make decisions for these orphans when no family member or caregiver is available? When health issues turn into crises, the elder orphans end up in the emergency room, which we all know is not the ideal way to receive healthcare. Ideally, these elder orphans would have some sort of healthcare plan that would prevent the health crisis in the first place.

According to the latest census, one-third of Americans currently between the ages of 45 to 63 are single. That represents a 50 per cent increase from 1980. Lots of them may have children who will look out for their care, but a large number of them may have no clue to their vulnerability (or just don’t want to think about it).

So what should you do to prevent becoming an elder orphan? Number one, get yourself an advanced directive so it’s clear how you want to be treated. Number two, find and designate an advocate who will make decisions if you are unable to. Number three, and the not so easiest part, create a strategy. A distant relative, a younger friend, or someone you trust needs to know what your plan is.

And one more thing. Start living for today because tomorrow may not be nearly as much fun.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Urban Boomers

The numbers tell the story. Baby boomers are moving to the big city for the good life. Well, maybe not the bigger cities, but cities nonetheless. According to research from Zipcar, millennials may be the dominant force in urban centers, but boomers aged 50-69 are closing fast.

Why so many boomers in the city? They’re empty-nesters for sure, or they are downsizing, but many are just motivated by the desire to have more fun and activities in their lives, so the city is the place to be. 90% say they are looking for more cultural experiences, outdoor activities, as well as access to restaurants, shopping and fitness facilities. Only 32% are retired, so they must be loving the shorter commute times. And no big surprise, 57% are single.

And the move seems to be working. 55% of urban boomers say that their life is more carefree and exciting. 61% say they feel closer to their significant other. 69% say that they use mobile apps to make their lives easier. And this stat either scares you or comforts you --- 81% of urban boomers use Facebook.

They are taking clasess (22%), starting new hobbies (23%), attending local events/gatherings (42%), and volunteering in their community (22%).

I’m starting to see a trend here. Millennials finally start to assume the jobs of retiring or scaling-back boomers. Then they finally can afford to get married and buy homes---- like those being sold by boomers who are ready to move to the city. It’s like a giant migratory transfer---boomers move out, millennials move in. Maybe in time they can all just do housing swaps. You take my loft condo and I’ll take the rancher in the burbs. In no time at all, it will be millennials making the trip to the city to visit their parents.

If this whole cycle sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Many of us started off our careers living in the city because that’s where the action was. Some of us renovated houses, worked different jobs, dined at all the trendy restaurants, hung out at the cool bars, and shopped at the hippest stores until it was time for us to grow into the next phase of our lives. Now, like salmon swimming back to their spawning grounds, here we are again.

Good to be back home.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Numbers Game

So here’s a statistic that won’t surprise you. According to an AARP study, baby boomers account for half of all consumer spending. Right. We’re buying cars, boats, houses, everything that isn’t nailed down. Now put that together with the other half of the picture…only 10% of total marketing dollars are directed at us.

What? Huh? How’s that? If you’re saying to yourself that doesn’t make any sense, join the club. Researchers, pollsters and consultants have pointed out the obvious imbalance, but advertisers have not seen the light. Boomers are the biggest consumers but advertisers virtually ignore us in order to capture younger consumers because they still believe some old BS theory that if you get them when they’re young, you will have them as customers for life. We’re talking about millennials who switch social media platforms faster than a speeding bullet and advertisers think they can hold on to this demo? That’s totally cray (or cray-cray if you really want to sound current).

We control about 70% of the nation’s disposable income, but like Rodney Dangerfield, we can’t get any respect. The only ads directed at us are for reverse mortgages (talk about cray!), denture cleaners, and incontinence products. Did I forget hearing aids? Is loss of memory one of the side effects? Many (notice I didn’t imply all) boomers have ample savings, homes with a ton of equity and are not living from paycheck to paycheck, so we have some amazing discretionary spending power.

You would think that advertisers would see this equation for what it is and come at us with all they’ve got. But no, they still chase the elusive butterflies (i.e. millennials). What’s a boomer to do? Keep spending my friend. Want to finally buy that luxury car? Do it. Want to take that long awaited trip to New Zealand? Book it. Worried that you don’t have enough savings for retirement? Spend it. Want to try that fancy new restaurant? Eat it. Want to tell those advertisers who ignore us what they can do? Suck it.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Social Media Won't Save Us But the Longevity Economy Might

If you thought tech start-ups have nothing to do with your life or your future, think again. Silicon Valley just might be making the lives of aging baby boomers a whole lot more comfortable (or bearable) than we thought.

There’s gold in them thar hills. Only the hills is us, and it’s beginning to look like some very smart entrepreneurs are recognizing that the silver tsunami could mean gold for them, and greater comfort for us. Health and wellness technology is creating what’s been coined as the “longevity economy” and we should probably jump on the train as investors as well as beneficiaries.

Silver Tech is another name for it, but whatever you call it, competition and profit are going to drive tech companies to make products that allow us to live longer in our own homes and independently. From wearable fitness devices to treadmill desks, new products are coming on line every day. Then there’s the video link-ups that let you talk to a real doctor from your computer (without putting on one of those funny gowns!). Or the geolocation devices that will help find dementia patients. There’s even an airbag device that can be worn around the waist and it deploys when the wearer falls over, preventing the dreaded broken hip accident that often becomes the beginning of the end for elderly patients.

There’s a treadmill desk for those of us still working (although I have visions of becoming distracted by an incoming email and then thrown against the wall) and a raft of new health apps to put on your smart phone and/or strap to your wrist. These gadgets will monitor our heart rate, measure our steps, time our workouts, even tell us when we fell asleep. It’s not too hard to imagine a time when it will tell us when to eat, what to eat, and when to poop. That last alert could be really helpful when dementia sets in.

Perhaps the most telling sentiment about aging among babyboomers is not the fear of death itself, but the fear of having a crummy, dehumanizing assisted living experience. When you’re dead and gone, you’re….well…dead and gone. But to exist as just one more helpless geezer, that’s what all of hope to avoid. If high-tech tools and gadgets will prevent that end, sign me up.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How stupid do they think we are?

I have been seeing commercials lately for a hair rejuvenation product. It’s targeted to women with thinning hair. After some of the usual mumbo jumbo about the efficacy of this miracle product, viewers are directed to call now – but only if your last name begins with A-N. If your last name begins with O-Z, you are directed to call after 9am tomorrow morning. Really? I mean really?

How stupid do they think we are? Demand for this product is so heavy, they have to cut the number of callers in half (that’s presuming there are half as many thin-haired women whose last name begins with A-N….or forget it, this is ridiculous). So let’s say your last name is Stupidovitz and you decide you can’t wait until tomorrow…you’re calling RIGHT NOW! Operators are standing by to take your call. Oh, sorry, your name begins with S. You’ll have to call after 9am tomorrow. But you have to order now. Can’t you make an exception? Okay, but don’t ever tell anyone that I let you order tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow. I could lose my fantastic job over this. Will that be MasterCard, Visa or American Express?

Do the makers or marketers of this product know something that we don’t? For example, is it possible that women with thinning hair are also beginning to experience thinning critical judgment? The hair loss is also a factor in brain cell loss?

I used to think that infomercials must have an ever shrinking audience of gullible buyers, but I now believe that commercials for products such as Keranique must be successful. Why else would they continue to buy airtime to hawk their product. Someone is buying it (either that very night or the next day after 9am). This apparent widespread gullibility may explain a lot of other aberrations of logic (take a look at voter referendums in this country if you want see the power of twisted persuasion).

And speaking of twisted and gullibility, don’t even get me started on Henry Winkler (The Fonz) peddling reverse mortgages.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Hey, Bungalow Bill

I read somewhere that bungalows have fast become the “it” house for baby boomers who want to downsize and live on one level. You lose the stairs but still get a backyard and some green space. Makes sense. Who wants to climb stairs as you get older, or trip and break your hip…since we all know what that means…the end.

So the word comes from the Hindi word “bangla” which means belonging to Bengal. Maybe it was a one-story house for tigers? My dictionary defines it as a “low house, with a broad front porch, having either no upper floor or upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows.” There’s even a California bungalow that owes its name to its popularity in the Golden State, particularly after World War II. The Craftsman movement in this country often featured bungalow style homes, and they have been much sought after by renovators and house flippers.

So it seems everything has come full circle --- again. Baby boomers may have grown up in bungalow homes, only to move out into the world of cape cods, colonials, ranchers, tudors, mid-century moderns, split-levels, log cabins, A-frames, mediterraneans, McMansions, townhouses, and condos.

I would say that we’re taking a step up, but there will be no steps. The ideal home for us will be one level with nothing to trip us up. The bathroom will have all those handle thingies (okay, grab bars if you prefer) to keep us from falling on the radiant-heated floor. There will be no high cabinets in the kitchen. There will be automatic lights that come on when we enter a room and go off when we leave it. Lever-type handles will replace knobs on all our doors, and faucets as well. Slip-resistant flooring material will be used throughout the house – no more area rugs. Very low-pile carpeting will be the most likely choice.

For a generation that likes to have things their way, the bungalow sounds like an ideal fit. Spock’s Vulcan salute of “Live long and prosper” is going to be replaced by “Live longer by not tripping.”

As Chief Thunderthud used to say on Howdy Doody, “Kowabunga!” Bungalow houses here we come.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

But You Doesn't Hasta Call Me Johnson!

If you don’t remember this line, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoYsfbq3vMc

There’s a war on words brewing for boomers. Maybe war is too strong. Let’s just say baby boomers are bucking labels such as “senior,” “senior citizen,” “mature adult,” or “older adult.” And they are not to happy with the sound of nursing home, assisted living facility, old-age home, or adult day care.

Something tells me this aversion to be labeled goes all the way back to be when we first got the tag “baby boomers.” Society has to keep labeling generations, so I doubt Gen Xers or millennials feel any better about the process, but at least they don’t have the word “baby” in their handle. How’s a baby boomer supposed to go from baby to geezer? Besides that fact that they are both wrinkled, what does a baby have in common with a geezer?

Being called “old” gets old, so what should we be called as we get around the bend? And what age qualifies as around the bend? We used to think the retirement age of 65 was old, but as retirement pushed back later and later, it seemed like maybe 75 was old. But if you talk to any 75 year olds, they will tell you, no, 75 isn’t old – 85 is old.

And to those who say, yeah, yeah, it’s just words, I say yes, but word labels can sting. It’s bad enough that we’re going to experience diminished faculties and lessened control of bodily functions. We don’t have to be further insulted with demeaning labels and warehoused in places that have names that sound just plain awful.

The reality of our situation is that no matter what they call us or where they store us, it may not be pretty. Normally I might say we should suck it up, keep calm and carry on. But for crying out loud (something we’re good at), we’re baby boomers! We don’t have to take this crap without a fight! There’s 77 million of us (but the number is going down by the day)! We can call the shots (I’m delirious with power now)!

Okay, maybe the sheer magnitude of our numbers can’t stop younger generations from referring to us as ‘old fogies” (whatever a fogey is). But that won’t stop a resistance movement (picture an underground network of rebel boomers).

Personally, I’m okay with being called “ripe.”


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.