How to Include Seniors in Trending Stories

by February 24, 2020
Here are a few ideas on how to include senior citizens in your local beat about the latest business trends. (Photo credit to Pixabay)

By 2030, people 65 years and older will make up 12% of the world population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

But now in the U.S., the rate is growing — and continues. One of the main reasons is due to the “baby boomer” generation that is beginning to approach retirement age, and more of that population includes older women and (almost two-thirds) white people. Almost 40% of the overall older population were working or looking for employment — and is also expected to rise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2017

Here are a few national headlines and trends that can offer new angles into this rapidly-growing population.

Interest rates

The Federal Reserve announced it was cutting interest rates by a quarter point for the third time this year on October 30, with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell beginning with an outline of a somewhat optimistic economic future. 

When the Federal Reserve lowers its rates, consumers may have cheaper loans for mortgage, car, credit card, and other payments. President Trump has said that lowering interest rates would boost the economy and increase consumer spending.

However, if the economy does not grow, this could mean an uncertain future for consumers. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently reported that although consumer spending is growing, business investment declined. If the economy slows, consumers may earn less interest from savings, and therefore, less buying power — and this can include seniors. 

The AARP says that more than 10 million people over the age of 50 live in poverty, and about 37 million more can easily slip into it. With decreased interest rates, those who live on fixed income, such as pensions, may see their income go down as a result of decreased interest rates, said AARP’s communications director Alex A. Juarez.  

“Lower interest rates usually mean lower inflation, which is helpful for those on fixed incomes generally,” Juaurez said. However, the seniors who might suffer would be those who need to borrow, or refinance. 

Telemedicine and Virtual Services

Requiring an internet connection, a new service known as telemedicine allows the patient real-time interaction with their doctor, regarded by some as a cost-effective and simpler alternative to the traditional method. Though 5% of medical practices currently don’t offer such services, it’s a rising trend that’s gaining traction from smartphone apps to video conference calls, with the market expecting to be valued at around $30 billion by 2025. 

This may be a boon to senior citizens that may not have access to reliable transportation or see a doctor in the traditional way. Take a look at how and if telemedicine is used in your area, and who uses it. In this case, are there classes or instructors to help assist senior citizens with this technology? Do assisted care facilities or other related places use them? How does this affect the caregiving industry, both private and governmental? Does it reduce transportation costs? What is the overall quality? 

However, there may be potential barriers. Medicaid.gov notes that Medicaid and other insurance coverage, as well as reimbursement, vary from state to state, and telemedicine is not under a specific federal statute. Also consider access from locations that might not have access to broadband, as 1 in 5 of older Americans live in a rural area, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report

The issues persist for services such as online shopping, including grocery and food delivery. DoorDash, for instance, is responsible for 35% of virtual food sales and available in 4,000 towns, according to a Bloomberg report. Stores such as Whole Foods, Target, WalMart, Sprouts, and Stater Brothers deliver products, mainly through Instacart. (And let’s not forget Amazon, which is opening its own store in Los Angeles.) 

However, this is another labor story — for traditional behind-the-register ones and rideshare/delivery ones, as either a full-time or part-time job. How many seniors are not just ordering food and other services but are employees? Are there competitive food services catered especially to seniors? How does this affect other programs such as Meals on Wheels?

Streaming Services

Netflix is soon to be one of the many in the streaming service industry, with Disney Plus looking to be one of the major competitors. While websites offer recommendations to senior citizens such as “Grace and Frankie,” the technology itself can be worth taking a look. 

For one, how many senior citizens are subscribing to streaming services? AARP, for instance, recommends switching from cable or satellite for cheaper alternatives, and taking a look at demographic data from services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more may offer insight into not only tastes and preferences but also why some are making the switch. The organization added that online viewing has increased 36% percent for people ages 65 and older.

Interestingly, for example, 33% of viewers are watching Netflix originals, and that top group are those ages 50 and up, according to Business Insider. And what about video games? A few have even rocketed to online fame, and a NBC report suggests stimulation such as this may help delay the onset of neurological degenerative diseases, such as Alzhemeir’s and dementia.

This can also be a consumer story in terms of purchasing physical technology, such as devices like Roku and advertised easy-to-use devices such as AirTV. (Some sites also recommend antennas.) Are there advertisers and streaming companies seeking senior citizen viewers? How many do (and how many go back to traditional methods)? 

However, television viewers are still mainly the older population, with the median age of major broadcast network show viewers were nearly 54, according to a report by The Washington Post.