Tuesday, February 23, 2016


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


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.