Who You Calling Elderly?

OK, on behalf of 50 plus people everywhere, I officially cry Foul! to the positioning of the new medical findings reported in the Wall St. Journal today “When Older Drivers Excel.”  The point of the article was no surprise to any parent of a teen, that ‘older’ drivers are better at anticipating and reacting to surprise road hazards, children on the street or just aggressive driving behavior while their younger, less experienced counterparts perfect the art of straight-ahead-only driving.  But as I read the piece, I was shocked to see that those astute drivers with 37 years of experience or more were termed “elderly.” That would mean, if someone started driving at the learner’s permit age of 16, they are officially elderly at age 52. You gotta be kidding!

For years, I’ve sat in my share of meetings where “older” women (those anywhere north of 39) were marginalized into the not-our-target zone. It always ticked me off and naturally, gets more annoying with each passing year. Who doesn’t hate to discover that they have moved into a new ‘checkoff’ box on an age questionnaire? When networks still count 21-49 as their demographics, what does that mean for the rest of us plunging off the cliff into death?

Meanwhile, those ‘older’ women who have the bucks to spend on everything from skin care to apparel to new homes and cars and yet they are shelved into feeling like they’ve passed their ‘use by’ date. While an economy still staggers to its feet, lurching from an uptick to another slump, you’d think it would finally be time for the media, for brands, for everyone to court the women who can save our collective bottom lines. As a copywriting friend once wrote for an article I did for MORE magazine, “Older women still kick butt…they just do it in more expensive shoes.” Elderly, my—.

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May 23, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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