Archive by Author | AGAnnaM

Another Role for Aging Stars


As American baby-boomers start retiring, new career opportunities are appearing for the stars they grew up with. Actors such as Sally Field and Alex Trebek (Jeopardy host, aged 71) have started advertising products including hearing aids and joint pain medication. These advertising campaigns reflect several realities facing the American and other global populations: the desire for spokespeople that represent this important consumer group and the possibility for continuing your career past retirement age, even in a sector that is as age-conscious as Hollywood.

Marketing researchers suggest that advertisements using older, familiar faces give customers an added confidence in the product being sold because they imagine that these people do not need the money and would not be endorsing products or services they did not believe in.


As with most successful marketing campaigns, the companies started by identifying their target audience and then researching what kind of spokesperson they would respond to. Interestingly, they found that women of the baby-boom generation were, despite having lived through the sexual revolution, more likely to trust a male spokesperson. They also found that these women were more responsive to someone older than them, thus leading to the decision to hire actors such as Robert Wagner (aged 82) and Pat Boone (aged 77). Focus groups also showed that people may rank a celebrity highly when asked if they would like to have them over as dinner guests, but at the same time rank them as untrustworthy – ranking entirely others as very trustworthy.

It seems celebrities are responding to the confidence placed in them, with Fred Thompson of Law and Order fame acknowledging that he did his research before endorsing the American Advisers Group and that his 91-year-old mother is now one of their customers. Sally Field has been advertising bone-loss drug Boniva since 2006 and has stated that she is happy to talk about a drug she uses and benefits from.

It seems so far the focus groups have been fairly accurate, and that the celebrities endorsing these very important products and services feel a responsibility not only towards the companies but especially towards the customers, who are very much like themselves!



Swedish Giant Enters Chinese Home Care Market

AP images

Swedish paper conglomerate SCA recently announced an investment in the Chinese elderly care market. SCA produces a wide array of products including a large range of incontinence products under the brand Tena, SCA is in part motivated by the fast growth that the incontinence product market is expected to have in China: estimated at 20% annually compared to the overall market growth rate of 4%. But the incontinence market is not the only market experiencing rapid growth in China, the General Secretary of the Standing Committee of the NPC Li Jianguo recently announced that another 3.4 million beds in eldercare facilities will need to be added in the next five years.

SCA is partnering with Singaporean company ECON Healthcare Group to start the care company Jiahu, and aim to have 1000 nurses in Shanghai within a couple of years and then expand to the rest of Asia. Today ECON operates eight nursing homes and a hospital in Singapore as well as a maternity hospital ward in Malaysia.

However, the Swedish and Singaporean companies are not the first foreign companies to enter the promising Chinese market. Last year American Cascade Healthcare announced plans to build a eldercare facility in Shanghai. Other international companies have entered joint ventures with Chinese healthcare providers in an attempt to bypass some of the difficulties that come with entering a country where cultural traditions suggest that care for elders stays within the family.

Sources: “Svenska Skogsjätten startar hemtjänst i Kina”

A couple of hours and a wealth of wisdom

A while back I heard about a compelling initiative by an organisation named Äldrekontakt (older contact, or contact with elders) that sets up social coffee gatherings in peoples homes. A group of 6-8 elderly people living alone are picked up by volunteer drivers and taken to a volunteer’s home, with most volunteers being between 25 and 40, where they are treated to coffee, baked goods and, above all, great conversation. The same group of elderly people meet each month but the volunteers vary, giving consistency to the participants but also limiting the necessary commitment of volunteers.

 What I particularly love about this initiative is how clearly it benefits all parties. Hearing peoples’ life stories and wisdoms presents incredible learning lessons for younger people and the chance to socially interact in someones home is particularly appreciated by the elderly participants, in addition to hearing the perspectives of the younger hosts. The organisation works with local municipalities to identify elderly people living alone who do not have very many visits from or much contact with other people, ensuring that the program reaches those who may benefit the most. This particular initiative is very well organized but it also presents an idea that can be easily implemented almost anywhere! I’ve now signed up to become a host (I promise to post about my own experience if I’m contacted) but I also considered that in my building alone there are 4 women over the age of 85 living alone – perhaps it is their wisdom I should reach out for first!
Photos courtesy of Johanna Frenkel (

Vices Indulged – New Opportunities in Care for Alzheimer’s patients

The demand for Alzheimer’s care facilities has risen dramatically during the past decades with two thirds of patients at nursing homes in the USA suffering from dementia, and it is expected to continue to rise as populations age and the amount of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the USA alone is expected to increase 50% by 2030, from 5.2 to 7.7 million, and it is predicted that it may triple by 2050: reaching 16 million.

Recognizing the need for more options when it comes to Alzheimer’s care facilities, the Beatitudes nursing home in Phoenix, Arizona has stepped in to offer non-traditional care. Beatitudes approach is to offer individualized care; indulging the vices of their residents rather than enforcing strict guidelines such as the set meal times and bed times that are common place at nursing homes overcrowded with patients and lacking resources.

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