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When They Grow Up (Aging Baby Boomers are in denial about getting old)
National Review ^ | 02/11/2011 | Mona Charen

Posted on 02/11/2011 7:09:36 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Companies are quietly redesigning their products to accommodate the needs of (shh, don’t say it aloud) aging baby boomers. So reports the Wall Street Journal. “The generation that sent diaper sales soaring in the 1960s, bought power suits in the 1980s and indulged in luxury cars in the 2000s is getting ready to retire: The oldest boomers turn 65 this year. . . . But there’s a catch: Baby boomers, famously demanding and rebellious, don’t want anyone suggesting they’re old.”

Marketers, always alert to the sensitivities of this most self-absorbed of cohorts, are developing products and shopping environments that will appeal to the needs of, let us say, ripening baby boomers without ever using the “o” word. “Surreptitiously, companies are making typefaces larger, lowering store shelves to make them more accessible and avoiding yellows and blues in packaging — two colors that don’t appear as sharply distinct to older eyes.”

It may be autumn for the boomers, but it’s springtime for the marketing euphemists. Bathroom-fixture maker Kohler, the WSJ reports, set its wizards the task of renaming the “grab bar” — a shower fixture for, shall we say, experienced bathers. They came up with “belay” (after the mountaineering term), and designed it to blend unobtrusively into the tile wall. Whether Kohler considered that mature eyes might not be able to find the subtle “belay” in an emergency we don’t know.

Maybe we should be grateful for euphemisms in a culture that is otherwise awash in vulgarity. But really — “Low T”? You’ve seen the commercials, I’m sure. “Millions of men 45 and older just don’t feel like they used to,” it begins. “Remember when you had more energy for 18 holes with your buddies? More passion for the one you love?” Well, “don’t blame it on aging,” Abbott Laboratories advises. “Call your doctor,” because what in other times and places was considered normal is now “a treatable condition called low testosterone or low T.” If at 55 you don’t feel 19, call your doctor and get a drug to fix it.

More-tempered women present even greater challenges for marketers. Boomer women, a business website reminds readers, constitute 37 percent of those online, and women in general make 80 percent of household purchasing decisions. In order not to offend these potential customers, the site advises avoiding the words “senior,” “older women,” “silver surfers or silver anything,” and particularly “grandma, grandmother, grandparents, grannies.” Boomer gals, we learn, “are happy to lipo, pull, tighten, and do just about anything on earth to avoid being asked that dreaded question, ‘Would you like the senior discount?’”

Maybe it’s the plastic surgery, or maybe it’s just denial, but boomers seem a tad unrealistic about where they fit into the life cycle. “When casting for recent Depend ads,” the Journal reports, “the brand looked for actors who appeared to be in their early 50s . . .Despite concerns inside the company that the actors were too young to be believable, focus groups of boomers didn’t mind a bit.” Which may explain why the actors in denture commercials are all in their 50s too.

For an entire cohort to go through life tagged as “babies” may have had some infantilizing effects over the years. An AARP commercial aimed at baby boomers uses the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” trope for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. One says he wants to work with children, another that he wants to fix up old houses. She wants to run a marathon. He’s going to start a band. AARP believes “you’re never done growing.”

Actually, yes you are. You’re a grownup at 21. People continue to change and improve (some go in the other direction), but they are no longer “growing.” Boomers need to get a grip — or a belay — on the facts of life. Run your marathon if you want to, but you’ve been grown up for decades!

Yet why single out boomers? No one these days is encouraged to act his age. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company recommends sending stuffed animals to grown women for Valentine’s Day. There are also ads for “hoodie/footie” pajamas for people who haven’t waited up for Santa in well over a decade. The sexual innuendo in the ads doesn’t counteract the fact that they are peddling gifts more appropriate for six-year-olds.

The styles that are marketed to “tween” girls — those between 10 and 12 — on the other hand, are all about premature sexuality. Why is it so hard to get this right?

Age matters. What’s right at 20 is not right at 60 — or 10. The only dignified way to navigate through life’s stages is not to deny that.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: age; babyboomers
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1 posted on 02/11/2011 7:09:39 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I admit it, I’m old.

But that’s no reason to get out of shape, or stop reading and thinking. I have redoubled my efforts in both areas.


2 posted on 02/11/2011 7:11:38 AM PST by proxy_user
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To: proxy_user
I don't regret growing old, it's a privilege denied to many.
3 posted on 02/11/2011 7:14:31 AM PST by existtoexcel
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To: SeekAndFind
Bathroom-fixture maker Kohler, the WSJ reports, set its wizards the task of renaming the “grab bar” — a shower fixture for, shall we say, experienced bathers. They came up with “belay” (after the mountaineering term), and designed it to blend unobtrusively into the tile wall.

So the old folks demanded this? They picketed and begged not to be called "old"? *sigh* Marketing gimmicks are not the fault of the public.

4 posted on 02/11/2011 7:14:50 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are at your door! How will you answer the knock?)
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To: SeekAndFind
Not this Baby Boomer...every ache and pain tells me I am getting OLD.

you hear people on TV saying 60 is the new 40, right???

in my case 62 is the new 82

now if my doctors would give me HGH(they look at me funny when I ask), I might allow myself to be deluded into thinking I wasn't getting old.

5 posted on 02/11/2011 7:15:12 AM PST by Vaquero ("an armed society is a polite society" Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: proxy_user

“But that’s no reason to get out of shape, or stop reading and thinking. I have redoubled my efforts in both areas.”

Me too. At 51 I am still within 5 pounds of what I weighed when I was 21. But I can’t do everything I did 30 years ago (and probably shouldn’t have then, either).

I like to say that “Maturity is the acceptance of an ever lengthening list of limitations.” Some of our generation needs a lot of maturity.


6 posted on 02/11/2011 7:16:04 AM PST by henkster (Before we make any more "investments" we ought to be shown the prospectus.)
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To: proxy_user

I’m a Boomer. Yes, stay active, in shape, engaged and ready to learn new things. Always.

Age is just a number.


7 posted on 02/11/2011 7:16:51 AM PST by BunnySlippers (I love BULL MARKETS . . .)
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To: SeekAndFind

Aging gracefully is something that requires ‘character’ and that is something which has been bred out of most Americans (beginning with but not exclusive to Baby Boomers)!!


8 posted on 02/11/2011 7:17:45 AM PST by SMARTY (Conforming to non-conformity is conforming just the same.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I admire the Boomers for not just getting “old” and gathering dust.

When my grandmother was 65 she couldn’t even imagine running. Now I see 65 year olds running in 25K races with as much drive as 22 year olds.


9 posted on 02/11/2011 7:17:47 AM PST by VanDeKoik (1 million in stimulus dollars paid for this tagline!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Its simple - young people buy stuff, old people don't.

I look at pictures of my granddad when he was the age I am today & its hard to believe.

10 posted on 02/11/2011 7:18:55 AM PST by skeeter
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To: SeekAndFind

All I can say is if boomers can’t accept aging, there will be even more hell to pay from the spoiled brats in the follow on generations. They barely accepted being young.


11 posted on 02/11/2011 7:19:33 AM PST by Williams (It's the policies, stupid.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Oh, it’s just a phase. You get used to it and embrace the fact you aren’t a young fool anymore.

Instead you are an old fool. LOL


12 posted on 02/11/2011 7:20:09 AM PST by dforest
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To: SMARTY
Not a boomer?

I believe that the 60's hippies are who these people are addressing. You've seen the Grandpas with the ponytails and their wives trying to look like they did in the 60's.

13 posted on 02/11/2011 7:21:01 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are at your door! How will you answer the knock?)
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To: SeekAndFind
Sounds like Mona is just projecting, insofar as she is no spring chicken.

Seems that Charin wants us all to act like our great-grandparents, sit in a rocking chair all day long and try to ring the spitoon spitting snuff.

I look at pictures of my grandparents, and at age 55 they looked like today's 80-year-olds. Chalk it up to the better nutrition, better medicine, or whatever, today's boomers look and act younger than our predecessors.

My question to Mona is....So What?

Her assessment amounts to "profiling" people over 65. "Old people ain't acting like old people" seems to be her rant.

Well gosh darn, I'm going to run right out and buy me a pack of Depends and a walking cane so I can live up to the vision of yet, another "journalist" on how America should be.

Maybe I'll trade my cellphone in for a "Jitterbug" and have my son build me a "ramp" to get out my front door.


14 posted on 02/11/2011 7:23:35 AM PST by FrankR (The Evil Are Powerless If The Good Are Unafraid! - R. Reagan)
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To: henkster

Ha! When I was 21, I had the body of a fat slob. Now, 36 years later, I weigh 20 pounds less and have the body of a gym rat.

On the other hand, I can’t read Latin and Greek as easily as I could then.


15 posted on 02/11/2011 7:24:07 AM PST by proxy_user
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To: proxy_user

I’ll be 52 in April, don’t look it or feel it. I still have a 9 and 7 yr old at home.

I stay in shape, my hair is still cut in a long auburn shag, and I wear what I want.

I also still attend college classes.

Age is not a number to tell you when you should roll over and die. It’s the time you spend living....


16 posted on 02/11/2011 7:24:43 AM PST by mom4melody
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To: SeekAndFind

I will be 64 in May. I now have the time to be involved in church work and political activism. I enjoy being older,hopefully wiser and more able to contribute to things that are truly worthwhile.


17 posted on 02/11/2011 7:25:02 AM PST by thethirddegree (Islam is a vile, barbaric, perverted, depraved,seditious cult invented by a murdering pedophile)
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To: SeekAndFind

Signs of baby Boomers getting old yet in Denial:

1) Women wearing pants that say Juicy on the rear

2) Men STILL believing the Hooter waitress pouring their beer will go home with them and Light Their Fire

3) The Baby Boomer with the Micro Bus following the latest popular Jam Band—probably Phish—and telling every 20 something that Jerry is a better guitarist than Trey

4) Late 50 something women getting a Tramp Stamp

5) Baby Boomers who STILL vote Democrat

6) men with a ponytail and a bald head

7) baby Boomers who still attend drum circles on college campuses

8) Women who get every plastic surgery,face lift and facial injection in an attempt to make their 17 year old daughter’s boyfriend notice them.

9) Women wearing a Jonas Brother T-Shirt

10) Men who haven’ t hit the gym in a decade attempting to bench their weigh and blow out a pec muscle instead.


18 posted on 02/11/2011 7:25:25 AM PST by Le Chien Rouge
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To: SeekAndFind

While I agree that the sex ads and other personal ads on TV are pretty disgusting, I’d find them disgusting no matter what age-group they were directed at.

But I don’t see why people should wither up and die at the age of 65. I don’t know how old Mona Charen is, but I’m sure she’d find it much more fun to be around an elderly mother, say, who was out running or taking part in events or learning a language or traveling and doing things than some self-absorbed lump who did nothing but become dependent and sit around obsessing on her aches and pains and her doctor’s visits.


19 posted on 02/11/2011 7:25:34 AM PST by livius
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To: DJ MacWoW

There is a pervasive immaturity in American society. People just do NOT want to grow up.

Just look at the magazines, films, tv shows, advertising...etc.

To watch this stuff, you’d think everyone in the US if under 35.

I had to quit listening to the radio because those clowns talk like everyone on earth is 12 years old!!


20 posted on 02/11/2011 7:30:45 AM PST by SMARTY (Conforming to non-conformity is conforming just the same.)
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To: SeekAndFind
We have been trained to think demographically.

People are individuals. There are "young" 65 year olds and there are "old" 22 year olds. Why do we all need to behave a certain way because of our age?

Sure, one should mature as one ages and gains experience. But is acting "old" a necessity?

21 posted on 02/11/2011 7:31:00 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: SeekAndFind
Aging Baby Boomers are in denial about getting old

Oh, I have no problem admitting it. I'm better than I've ever been, wrinkles, aches and all. But lots of wisdom, much more laid back. And I've never been happier. - the best position financially of my life, and loving the whole empty nest thing.

Yep, this boomer likes getting old.

22 posted on 02/11/2011 7:33:06 AM PST by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: SeekAndFind
One says he wants to work with children, another that he wants to fix up old houses. She wants to run a marathon. He’s going to start a band. AARP believes “you’re never done growing.” Actually, yes you are.

Is there something wrong with working with children, fixing up houses, running marathons, starting bands? Is it better to sit and stare out the window (which is also fine if that is what one chooses).

23 posted on 02/11/2011 7:34:39 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: thethirddegree

fantastic...

I am 58.. The worst part about heading into my 60s, is that I can’t do the pedal-to-the-metal type of exercise that I could do even as little as 4 years ago. I’ve had to slow down just a bit. Add into that the stomach issues, etc...

I agree with everyone above.. keep reading, keep involved in art and music, get some hobbies, learn new things, walk and exercise, if at all possible. And work on your love life. get a wife or husband, which I did last year, or work on keeping your wife or husband. that is priority number 1.


24 posted on 02/11/2011 7:34:59 AM PST by Chuzzlewit
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To: SeekAndFind
One says he wants to work with children, another that he wants to fix up old houses. She wants to run a marathon. He’s going to start a band. AARP believes “you’re never done growing.” Actually, yes you are.

Is there something wrong with working with children, fixing up houses, running marathons, starting bands? Is it better to sit and stare out the window (which is also fine if that is what one chooses).

25 posted on 02/11/2011 7:35:16 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: Chuzzlewit
And work on your love life. get a wife or husband, which I did last year, or work on keeping your wife or husband. that is priority number 1.

Good on you! I am retired but my wonderful wife still works. Every morning I write her a love note that she reads when she gets into work. You just can't love a wife too much.

26 posted on 02/11/2011 7:37:45 AM PST by thethirddegree (Islam is a vile, barbaric, perverted, depraved,seditious cult invented by a murdering pedophile)
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To: SMARTY
It's because the young are in control of products. It isn't consumer driven. It's what they "think" people want.

I don't buy magazines, have TV or go to the movies. Things don't change because they aren't listening.

27 posted on 02/11/2011 7:42:02 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are at your door! How will you answer the knock?)
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To: SeekAndFind

The reason the boomer generation is kicking and screaming into the golden age is because the mass mistreatment of the elderly and the disrespect began with the boomer generation. Now...they’re at the age of the folks they themselves disrespected and mistreated and the writing is on the wall. I’m at the tail end of the baby boom generation and despise those that came of age during the 60’s as they are responsible for the cultural decline. Almost every major ill/problem can be traced back to these self indulgent bastards.
The past 2 years have been a nightmare and it’s because the baby boomer malcontents have taken hold and are even more rooted than realized.
I was in the liquor store the other day and a guy, probably in his early to mid 60’s was in there in tennis shoes, jeans and the obligatory earring in his ear. Nauseating.
Yes...there are plenty of boomers that have ‘grown up’ but overall, the entire generation is obsessed with ‘not growing up’.
/rant off


28 posted on 02/11/2011 7:42:43 AM PST by Outlaw Woman
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To: proxy_user
On the other hand, I can’t read Latin and Greek as easily as I could then.

An engineer client of mine mentioneed a while back (he's hitting retirement age) "I think I'm gonna hve to break down and buy a scope, lining up the iron sights on that 600 yard plate is gettin' a little iffy..."
29 posted on 02/11/2011 7:43:19 AM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: proxy_user

Me, too.

The alternative isn’t so hot.


30 posted on 02/11/2011 7:44:38 AM PST by Peter W. Kessler (Dirt is for racing... asphalt is for getting there.)
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To: DJ MacWoW

“the “grab bar” — a shower fixture... designed it to blend unobtrusively into the tile wall.”

As far as I am concerned, this is long overdue. One does not need to be elderly to need something to grab on to while bending over in the shower to scrub your feet. Why does a safety device have to look ugly. I am glad they are blending in grab bars and will begin immediately to find such equipment which blends in with the decor.


31 posted on 02/11/2011 7:51:50 AM PST by texteacher
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To: Le Chien Rouge

****10) Men who haven’ t hit the gym in a decade attempting to bench their weigh and blow out a pec muscle instead****

Twenty two years ago I did this, and blew out a mitral valve! Haven’t lifted weights since.


32 posted on 02/11/2011 7:53:11 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (I visited GEN TOMMY FRANKS Military Museum in HOBART, OKLAHOMA! Well worth it!)
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To: Siena Dreaming

“Is there something wrong with working with children, fixing up houses, running marathons, starting bands? Is it better to sit and stare out the window (which is also fine if that is what one chooses).”

Nothing is wrong with any of the activities mentioned. However, I would hate to think that the message is gov’t propaganda filtering through the AARP. Will I have to justify my Medicare health care spending with how “productive” I am in my youthful older age?


33 posted on 02/11/2011 7:56:32 AM PST by texteacher
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To: texteacher

It’s very useful but that has to be the “boomers” fault!


34 posted on 02/11/2011 8:03:22 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are at your door! How will you answer the knock?)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

yep... I work out at the gym, but I do very low weight and high reps... mostly there for the cardio workouts.

I do note that there are quite a few 50 to 60 year olds, with the dyed hair and the muscle T-shirts, trying with every fiber of their being, to hold that gut in. Meanwhile the 20 to 30 year olds strut around like roosters. These guys that are my age, need to take a good long look in the mirror, and mirrors are everywhere in that place. It’s dumb..

Know your age, and by all means still exercise... but know that you aren’t 20.. Indeed, you are invisible to the young women at the gym.


35 posted on 02/11/2011 8:03:44 AM PST by Chuzzlewit
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To: thethirddegree

“Good on you! I am retired but my wonderful wife still works. Every morning I write her a love note that she reads when she gets into work. You just can’t love a wife too much.”

Oh, you wonderful softy. Can I borrow you for Valentine’s Day? Everyone needs at least one like you in their life.


36 posted on 02/11/2011 8:04:55 AM PST by flaglady47 (When the gov't fears the people, liberty; When the people fear the gov't, tyranny.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I´m coaching high school baseball and having the time of my life. Talk of being a kid again....


37 posted on 02/11/2011 8:05:41 AM PST by onedoug
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To: FrankR
Maybe I'll trade my cellphone in for a "Jitterbug"

Answer Post Yes/No? Yes
Agree With Poster Yes/No? Yes

38 posted on 02/11/2011 8:05:49 AM PST by palmer (Cooperating with Obama = helping him extend the depression and implement socialism.)
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To: Chuzzlewit

***...trying with every fiber of their being, to hold that gut in.***

I started holding my gut in 45 years ago in the military. I still hold it in with no problems even though there is now a spare tire around it.


39 posted on 02/11/2011 8:08:26 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (I visited GEN TOMMY FRANKS Military Museum in HOBART, OKLAHOMA! Well worth it!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I remember 9th grade and Fran Gabrie* telling me to “grow up” Last year I turned 60, won two world softball tournaments, and got my black belt in tae kwan do. Eat your heart out Fran, I’m Peter Pan!


40 posted on 02/11/2011 8:09:05 AM PST by usual suspect
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

hahhhh!!! and thanks for your service !!!


41 posted on 02/11/2011 8:09:32 AM PST by Chuzzlewit
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To: Chuzzlewit
get a wife or husband, which I did last year,

Okay, I have to ask. Which one did you get?

42 posted on 02/11/2011 8:21:26 AM PST by TN4Liberty (My tagline disappeared so this is my new one.)
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To: TN4Liberty

I got me a wifey...my childbook sweetheart. I had been looking for her for 10 years on the internet, and I finally found her on Facebook.


43 posted on 02/11/2011 8:28:26 AM PST by Chuzzlewit
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To: SeekAndFind
When I retired my wife decided we needed a little job so we became crossing guards at a local school. It was in an upscale neighborhood, mommies would bring their children, one forty plus would dress as a teenager. I mentioned to one other conservatively dressed mom that the other mom was afraid of growing old, she nodded in agreement.
44 posted on 02/11/2011 8:38:48 AM PST by boomop1
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To: Vaquero
in my case 62 is the new 82

That's a line to remember.

One thing I've noticed is that I wake up stiff as a board and now its just my joints.

45 posted on 02/11/2011 8:40:03 AM PST by tbpiper
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To: SeekAndFind
“The generation that sent diaper sales soaring in the 1960s, bought power suits in the 1980s and indulged in luxury cars in the 2000s is getting ready to retire.."

We are, and we're about to set diaper sales soaring once again!

46 posted on 02/11/2011 8:41:39 AM PST by Pearls Before Swine (/s, in case you need to ask)
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To: proxy_user

I’m a pre-boomer (1943). Still play rec b’ball a couple of times a week (those 40 year old kids are killin’ me!), run for fitness and a few 5k - 5 mile recreational races a year.

God has been better to me than I deserve!


47 posted on 02/11/2011 8:49:35 AM PST by JimRed (Excising a cancer before it kills us waters the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: Outlaw Woman
I’m at the tail end of the baby boom generation and despise those that came of age during the 60’s as they are responsible for the cultural decline. Almost every major ill/problem can be traced back to these self indulgent bastards.

I must admit I have to resist feeling the same way. However, the more history I read the more aware I become that the decline has be a long time coming.

It just seems to have started withthe Boomers because there were/are so damn many of them. But remember who were egging them on in the 60s.

48 posted on 02/11/2011 8:59:43 AM PST by skeeter
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To: FrankR
I look at pictures of my grandparents, and at age 55 they looked like today's 80-year-olds. Chalk it up to the better nutrition, better medicine, or whatever, today's boomers look and act younger than our predecessors.

I look at photos of my relatives taken back in the 1950s-1960s, and the 30somethings look as if they're pushing 50, the 40- and 50somethings are indistinguishable from the ones in their 60s and 70s. It's partly due to the fashions they chose, which look matronly to later eyes : All women at age 30 (or 25, if they're married with children) choosing to have their hair chopped off into hideously unflattering, frizzy "cap of curl" mushroom shapes a la Edith Bunker, mid calf skirts, flat pancake heels, cardigans as a uniform...It is likely that if you took an average middle or upperclass woman in her 40s of today and teleported her back in time , she'd probably be perceived as 30-34 by those around her. Less smoking (which causes and worsens facial lines) knowledge that tanning damages skin (when my mom was in college in the early 1960s, she was REQUIRED to sunbathe-seriously!), easier lives for most...Much of what was thought to be intrinsic ageing is now known to be preventable or at least delayed, and we should all be glad it's so.

I agree with you that people should dress and act as they feel, not according to other people's stereotypes and attitudes about what's "appropriate" for people who have X number of birthdays.

49 posted on 02/11/2011 9:10:13 AM PST by kaylar (It's MARTIAL law. Not marshal(l) or marital! This has been a spelling PSA. PS Secede not succeed)
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To: Le Chien Rouge

10) Men who haven’ t hit the gym in a decade attempting to bench their weigh and blow out a pec muscle instead.

Yep it’s a problem that’s why the only exersise I do is walking and mood swings.


50 posted on 02/11/2011 9:14:28 AM PST by Vaduz
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