What Can A Commercial Teach Us About Aging? Prepare For #FutureWe


Television and the Passage of Time

If you watch commercials as an aging expert you see the world differently. When I saw the advertisement for vaccinations to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV) it caught my attention. In the 30 second TV spot, a young man or woman reverse aging. Do you remember Benjamin Button?

The Message About Knowledge

When you watch the commercial the young actors asks three questions.

First, “Maybe they didn’t know”

Next, “Maybe if they’d known”

Lastly, “Maybe my parents just didn’t know, right Mom? Dad?”

Ultimately, the question is if your parents knew what might happen why didn’t they protect their child? While the CDC now recommends 11 to 12-year-olds get two doses of HPV vaccine to prevent cancer the vaccine is controversial. Perhaps, it has something to do with they way the vaccine was first introduced? When the vaccine was introduced 10 years ago the first commercials focused on, one less woman to develop cervical cancer. At the time many parents were concerned giving the vaccination to their preteen daughters was also giving them permission to have sex. It was a contentious fight over sexuality and health promotion. Now, 10 years later many of those preteens are young women and men who may be having sex. Which is why the conversation is, did they know?

Time Passes and We Age

Similar to the HPV commercial the messaging about aging is off. For many midlife adults and boomers, the question comes us when did I get old? Obviously, from the moment each of us was born. Many of us will get the opportunity to grow older. It’s true not everyone will. However, those who look forward to leaving a legacy, seeing their family grow now must embrace knowing aging is part of their future. Celebrate #futurewe.

About Me

Currently, I am the Director of Program Innovation at Advocates For Aging. My claim to fame? First gerontologist to speak at South by Southwest. Another accomplishment?  Freewheeling After Sixty the first book to make it easier for older adults to give up driving. Lastly, this summer I’ll be speaking at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging on Let’s Talk Sexy: It’s Part of Aging.

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