Future Not So Golden for 50-plusers

Wow! What a negative headline for the founder of a blog site called “Positively Old!” But truthfully, that’s how I feel after attending the Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo at the Pasadena Conference Center yesterday.

I felt terrible for the forty or so exhibitors who purchased space only to speak to a couple of hundred seniors and caregivers throughout the day. Fully one third of the booths were unmanned; I’m not sure if this was because the exhibitors just left halfway through the day or if they never showed at all (to be fair, I was there towards the end of day.) In short, I don’t expect the Golden Future Expo to have a future.

But here’s what really made me want to die young. Nearly every booth, with the exception of a brain fitness software exhibitor and a couple of upscale living centers that reminded me more of lifestyle centers, every booth was directed at individuals who were mentally and physically falling apart. Now I understand that that happens, and the exhibitors are selling products designed to help these individuals maintain their independence as long as possible, but what about all of the vital, active people in their 50s and 60s? Where were the products designed to help MAINTAIN our vitality as we age? Why didn’t I see any blender or smoothie manufacturers or fitness gurus for those interested in healthy aging?

Of course, we are seeing more and more events and programs directed at those aging actively, and in my opinion, that is where we should be going—always looking toward the future, seeking new challenges on the journey of life. Enough with the “seniors” as retiring cripples mentality; fewer and fewer “seniors” want to be seen as such. I personally think that’s why this event did not succeed. While it was billed as an event for 50-plusers, everything about the expo was geared for 80-plusers and their caregivers. The balance between those with special needs and those who still have another 30 to 40 years of moving and shaking ahead of them was missing.

Care to weigh in on the type of expo you’d attend? What would get you excited enough to make the trip?

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10 Responses to “Future Not So Golden for 50-plusers”
  1. doug hay says:

    Wow – that must have been a shock to the exibitors. Something wrong with the planning and marketing of the event, so miss the boat. As to an event that I would be interested in, I’m not much interested in something for “seniors” unless it was very upbeat e.g. eating organic to outlive everyone, how to work forever, etc.

  2. I hear ya, Doug. The purpose of creating an event is to energize and inspire…for anyone. I’m with you…show me how to truly challenge myself to become better so I don’t need all of the other support devices. While I probably wouldn’t be interested in becoming a vampire, short of that, living longer and stronger is very appealing.

  3. Jan McWhorter says:

    That’s such a shame. The name didn’t match with the expo theme, did it? I agree w/ Doug, bad marketing. It should have been geared toward the baby-boomers who are now in their 50’s +. Granted, old age is full of pain & medical problems, mental & physical. However, I’d be excited to attend such an event if someone like Dirk Pearson & Sandy Shaw were there (I think they’re still around) with their Life Extension products & books. Or Richard Simmons & have him get folks pumped up! Positive energy is important. After all, we all hope to live to a nice, ripe old age if it’ll be a healthy old age. Heck, look at Gloria Stuart from the actual Titanic disaster, who was 100 when she recently died on Sept 26, 2010. She led a wonderful life. Good old age examples & products are what we need & what that expo lacked!!!

  4. Terry Hagertty says:

    Thinking back on the few, but varied conventions I have attended, the booths that always had the most foot trade were the upbeat, positive ones. Of course, flashing lights, loud music, and pretty women help a lot, too. Have live demonstrations, like how to exercise to maintain health and not to induce a heart attack. Hand out free samples and coupons for healthy food products. Remind people there is such a thing as fresh produce. Which is not to say, I would have avoided the vampire booth. Enjoying a good, rare steak into my second century does appeal to me.

  5. Brian says:

    Sounds like the marketers were way off base or they may have had problems selling the space in this economy. After all, “vital living” is something we must choose to spend money on, whereas decline and death are inevitable. In other words: The down economy may have kept more “life positive” exhibitors away but not the end-of-life exhibitors.

  6. No doubt they were trying to scare everyone to death, no, scare them into buying products.

  7. Bonnie Schroeder says:

    Yikes, I’m glad I missed that one. As a 50-plus-plus-plus, I totally agree with the others that the only kind of expo I’d attend would be one that showed ways to continue being active, feeling good, and using my brain cells effectively.

    In addition to healthy foods and exercise, they could include a pet adoption booth — studies show pet owners live longer, healthier lives.

    I want to be Betty White when I grow up, so get her to be the keynote speaker!

  8. Travis says:

    Thank you, Karen, for your insightful report. I am sure you have accurately diagnosed the problems of the show and I like your prescription for a better future over 50 event. I suspect your stellar background in staging and producing trade shows aided your analysis. If you ever organize a “Positively Old” show anywhere in the Los Angeles area, be sure to let me know.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Yes, I certainly had some insights based on the number of years I’ve been setting up shows and walking the aisles. I always feel for the exhibitors when attendance is low. Give me a couple of years and we’ll see what we can do about a Positively Old conference in the area! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Judy Mulcan says:

    Apparently these exhibitors and/or organizers of this conference are unaware that 50 is the new 40. I don’t know ehere they are getting their ideas…. but, I’m in my 50’s and many I know are there as well. We live healthy, happy, full lives – for me even more so than when I was younger… I certainly don’t have one foot in the grave as yet.

    Thanks Karen, interesting blog.

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