I’ve been meaning to try an experiment. I want to watch television for selected two hour segments—a segment in the morning, a segment in the afternoon, a segment in the evening—and observe the number and types of advertisements aimed at seniors. Images are sneaky. We see them over and over and begin to identify with the content. The other day I saw an ad, and I can’t even tell you what it was selling, but it was set in a room full of elderly people. There was a lot of confusion based on poor hearing and miscommunication. It seemed humorous and sad at the same time.
I’m a firm believer in laughing at life’s foibles, perceived inequities, and at one’s self. However, I also remember how helpless my grandmother felt once her hearing started to go. She desperately tried to make sense of conversations, but when the words seemed like mumbled whispers, grandma mostly smiled and nodded. It was easy to tell when she didn’t understand but was trying to pretend she did. “Grandma, what did you have for breakfast today?” Smile and nod. “Who was that woman leaving your room?” Smile and nod. No matter how hard I tried to assure her that I had the time to repeat myself, or the will to speak louder, she felt embarrassed. It was easier to pretend. So I wonder…are ads poking fun at seniors as funny as they are meant to be, or are we smiling and nodding just to blend in?