NOT FAKE NEWS, BUT AUTHENTIC SATIRE
It’s annoying when you open up a magazine and a bunch of re-subscription postcards fall out and scatter to the floor. For the elderly, however, this annoyance actually constitutes a health hazard, given their propensity to fall down when they bend over to pick something up.
According to the National Institute on Aging, old people are dropping like flies. More than one in three people age 65 years or older fall each year, and more than 1.6 million of them go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries.
According to HelpingHand, a medical alarm company that equips senior citizens with wearable electronic neck pendants they can use to summon emergency assistance (“Holy crap! I’m flat on my ass and can’t get up!”), nearly 20% of the calls they receive are from old people who keel over when trying to pick up cards that have fallen out of magazines.
“I’m appalled by the greed of magazine publishers,” exclaims Dr. Gilda Galliano, MD, a geriatrician who wrote the New York Times best-seller, Be Nice to Old People and They’ll Be Nice to You. “They’re shysters! They get into the homes of elderly subscribers and then, in effect, they dump trash on the floor which — naturally enough — the poor old dears feel compelled to pick up. That’s boorish behavior, downright uncouth!”
Late last year the American Association of Old People (AAOP) launched a campaign to ban these “blow-in” cards — so-called because of the process used to randomly insert such cards into the publication during printing.
Winifred Peterson, who heads the Ban Blow-Ins campaign, is AAOP’s senior consultant on “age-proofing” the homes of senior citizens to prevent falls. Usually, this involves doing simple things like throwing out throw rugs. “But these fiendish cards make age-proofing harder,” Peterson complains. “It’s like they’ve been programmed to land in hard-to-reach places.”
Peterson cites evidence that in 2016 more than 200 old people died trying to retrieve these cards from to hard-to-reach places. She cited the case of Mrs. Dixie Blake, an 86-year-old widow who lived alone in Loveland, Ohio. Mrs. Blake died from overexertion when she crawled beneath her Chippendale sofa trying to retrieve a blow-in from Town and Country.
“Sometimes pets are frightened by the flurry of flying cards, and they run off to hide,” Peterson said. “For example, Clementine, the beloved cat of Louie and Henrietta Jackson, an elderly couple in Topeka, Kansas, ran off when a couple of blow-ins fluttered out of Psychology Today and hit her nose. That was three months ago and Clementine hasn’t been seen since.” The Jacksons, she says, are inconsolable. Both are now hospitalized and being treated for severe depression.
Just last week, AAOP filed a lawsuit in New York City asking the court to prohibit use of blow-ins. The suit claims that magazine publishers “are putting greed for profits over the health and welfare of senior citizens.” But this fallout from blow-ins is confronting fierce blowback from the printing industry.
“Sure, these cards are annoying,” admits Newton Makepeace, President of the Blow-In Manufacturing Association. “But annoying consumers is an effective, time-tested way to sell stuff. Advertisers have been doing it from the get-go. Besides, Floriano, my personal trainer, says bending over is great exercise for seniors. These old farts ought to shape up! That’s the answer! If you ask me, when they fall down doing something as simple as bending over, it’s their own damned fault.”
“Look, we render a valuable service,” declares Simon Barney, a bindery and printing equipment manufacturer. “These cards raise re-subscription rates for magazines by 28% on average. It’s a proven fact. When a consumer has to pick up one of these blow-ins, the sucker is forced to look at it.”