THE BLOG
04/30/2008 03:18 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Old? No, We're Just Older

I remember the Life magazine that came out the week I became a "grown up." That was, of course, when I turned 13, and, therefore, knew more than anyone, was finally old enough not to be treated as a child, and the whole world belonged to my generation.

A "Quartet of Bing Crosby's Boys" was on the Life cover. I had crushes on a couple of those boys and thought there must be many more like them available to a new teenager. Ironically, decades later, my husband and I bought the house where Bing's "quartet" was brought up.

Life was full of good news for newly-grown-up teens like me. Although never dreaming we would be called "Baby Boomers" in our 50s and 60s, we did know life would be sweet.

Vacuuming would be easy for we future housewives of America. General Electric's latest "work-saving features at no extra cost" included the Cord Reel Cleaner, so "no more messy tangled cords" would waste women's time.

Boeing announced it was about to introduce a new plane, so people could cruise in a "restful, serenely quiet" atmosphere with no vibration.

Bargains were everywhere. We could even be rewarded for having a sore throat. Life advertised, "Cracker Jack free with Smith Brothers 3-pack."

Houses were going to be bigger and easier to maintain. Simoniz Vinyl Floor Wax was introduced in a "gay new container," and Norge introduced the "world's first truly automatic washer."

Ah, life would be great, youthful and easy, according to "Life."

I had no worries when the Beatles wondered about life "when I'm 64," or when the Who sang they hoped to "die before I get old." We were never getting old.

The media (yes, I'll blame the media, of course) disagrees.

Businessweek has a story and chart called, "How To Drive like an Old Guy," with a drawing of a man that shows how Nissan's engineers are donning "old" suits that simulate the effects of aging. Among the simulations are "cataract goggles" (to impair vision); neck restraint (for restricting range of motion); elbow restraints (to limit arm flexibility); knee straps (to mimic stiffness); "raised toe" footwear (to diminish sense of balance); waist belt (mimics thicker midriff and discomfort behind the wheel), and other items such as gloves and body casts.

Ouch! And, then, just in case we wanted to write this off to one company just being prepared for when we aged another 40 or 50 years, the Wall Street Journal ran a headline, "Designing for Senior Surge: Makes of Appliances, Bath Fixtures Target Aging Boomers; Cooking for the Forgetful."

Our maladies are universal. GE is shown simulating factors for cooking that deaden the sense of touch. A company is testing font sizes, colors, sounds and touch for display panel designers. Delta has a faucet that just needs to be tapped to turn off or on. Other examples are lowering products for "older backs," producing toilets that can be lowered or raised by touching a button and equipment to prevent tub or sink floods and cookware temperatures to prevent boil-overs by forgetful new oldsters.

We felt so mature at 13. Now, I wish I was mature enough to appreciate, rather than resent, the anticipation of increasing physical problems as we age. Maybe Microsoft or IBM is working on that now.