A New Aging: Beyond the Physical

Part II of a two-part Q&A with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman, surgeon, former Chief Medical Editor at NBC News and active corporate board member. Read Part I: A New Aging: Getting Older Looks Little Like It Once Did.

In the second of our two-part conversation with Dr. Nancy Snyderman we explore her approach to healthy aging – and it’s more than just a physical thing. We also hear what she thinks about how well marketers are engaging the Active Aging market.

AoM: What should marketers keep in mind about how Active Agers prioritize their spending?

Dr. Snyderman: In the past there has been a common notion that anyone in the 55+ crowd is ready to become a grandparent and to use any expendable income on their grandchildren rather than themselves. But I believe that as we look around at ourselves and our friends we are re-examining the whole preconceived idea. The thinking now is just as likely to be something like: ”You know, I’ve worked hard for many years and I want and deserve new experiences and adventures with my friends.”  Here’s a thought: spending on ourselves is an investment in ourselves!

AoM: So, what are your own priorities at this stage in your life?

Dr. Snyderman: As an Active Ager my top priority is exercise, eating well, and being engaged in my community. My priorities at this stage in my life reflect what most Active Agers care about.  We want our brains to stay sharp and hope our bodies will hold up and be strong for a long time. Some sort of physical exercise MUST be included in our daily lives. Moving our bodies at this stage in life is critical. Exercise keeps us strong and limber and releases endorphins which give you a sense of overall contentment. There is no doubt that exercise is good for your brain. If you have never loved exercise then call it something else. I do something physical every day. It is the essential component to that rewarding “third-third” in life.

AoM: What types of products are a mainstay of your day?

Dr. Snyderman: There are two products I count on every day to keep my skin in good shape.  One is free and the other does not have to be expensive.

I use a moisturizer on my face, neck, arms, and hands every day. I use several different types depending on the time of year (heavier in the winter and lighter in the summer). But the underlying and most important ingredient remains the same – sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. UVA and UVB rays damage the skin and over time collagen and elastin are damaged and disappear. Attention to your skin everyday will pay you back in spades and make you look and feel younger.

But the real secret weapon is sleep. This may be the most undervalued commodity of good health. During sleep our bodies repair themselves at the cellular level. Go 48 hours without sleep and look in the mirror. Your skin will be droopy and every wrinkle will show. You’ll have dark circles under your eyes. Get seven to eight hours consistently and you may well see the dark circles and wrinkles around your eyes go away.

AoM: But the new approach to aging isn’t just about taking care of our physical selves, is it?

Dr. Snyderman: Taking care of the physical body is the first step to wellness in the 55+ crowd.  But to be at your peak you can’t leave your spiritual self behind. For some, it’s having deep religious convictions and for others it might be finding solace in nature or poetry. It doesn’t really matter as long as you have something that fills your soul.

I have an ongoing goal that I set out to accomplish every day. I must see, smell, or hear something and register that moment in my brain. This simple exercise forces me to take in the world around me and to be present. At the end of the day, while lying in bed with the lights off, I recall those three sensory moments. It is the most basic form of meditation.

AoM: Finally, do you think media and marketers are starting to get and embrace what today’s Active Aging consumer is all about?

Dr. Snyderman: We are an active group with money to spend on items that bring us pleasure and enhance our well-being. And I do believe that some marketers are getting it. Look at rebooted television shows this year. Will and Grace and Roseanne are aimed squarely at us. And Helen Mirren selling beauty products at the age of 72. Guess what? It works. She says she’s worth it and I believe her.  We’re worth it too.

In Part I of our conversation with Dr. Snyderman she offers her unique and valuable perspective on how people 55+ today are approaching what she calls the “third third of life” with meaning for anyone hoping to understand and connect with this audience.

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