How to Discuss Aging in Health Writing

Ryan Velez, Health Content Specialist @ Article-Writing.co
Posted On: May 09, 2018
Have you ever had the moment where you have an older acquaintance or loved one, but find it awkward to try and ask about their age? If you end up making a faux pas, generally there’s an uncomfortable moment or two before everyone laughs it off and goes about their business. This is relatively harmless, but it belies an important truth: aging is a difficult subject to talk about, and anyone who is involved in writing in the health professions can relate.
Why this happens can stem from a variety of different sources. Some believe that it is a subtle form of ageism, while others take a more philosophical bent, saying that we don’t like talking about aging because it reminds us of our own mortality. While this may sound like lofty thinking, it also plays an important role in base business. For many elderly people, the aging process and what it does to them is a driving force in their business decisions. Whether you tackle elder care directly with your business, or just market to a primarily senior audience, you need to be able to address aging in a way that doesn’t cause that “uncomfortable moment.”

What Good Writing Communicates

We’ve talked about the variety of applications for health writing before, but it’s also important to take into consideration why it works so effectively. Think of this as having the “how” to go with the “what.” Chances are, the moment you open up a business, you have a target audience in mind. This can go among income lines, geographic lines, or, in this case, demographic lines. The fundamental promise of good marketing is that it shows your targeted audience how your product solves or alleviates their issue.

The thing about aging, though, is that we don’t have a product yet that can make you younger. Yes, some beauty products or health procedures market anti-aging on a surface level, but science hasn’t figured out how to wind the clock back fully. As a result, when it comes to elder-targeted products or services, you’re going to see a dichotomy between two main types:

  1. The type of product that enables you to “live with” aging.
  2. The product that is marketed as helping you go against the grain of aging.

There are commonalities and differences in each approach, but at the end of the day, the aging conversation is what they both hinge on. For example, let’s go back to the idea of beauty products, like anti-aging cream. They don’t skirt the issue of aging at all. In fact, many try to use science to put their customers at ease. This manifests in explaining how certain elements in the skin or other parts of the body change with age, and how their product (in theory) reverses the tide. Here, the challenge is similar to what you see in most health and wellness writing: breaking down the science into something that is easy to understand but still authoritative. 

Now, we need to go to the other extreme, the product or service that works with aging concerns rather than trying to fight them. We might as well talk about the greatest extreme, hospice care. Hospice care is unique because it’s generally not the senior themselves who are reading this content, but adult children and loved ones. Because emotions are likely to be high at this time, you notice a great shift in the way aging is discussed. Hard facts and stats aren’t needed about aging, instead, there is a much more human element. Here, the focus is more on the emotions that come with aging, like uncertainty, fear, and eventually a sense of peace. The copy’s goal here is to provide those with explanations and reassurance that the senior in question will get the best final care.

writing in the health professions

The Concerns for an Aging Population

Now, with this in mind, let’s expand the conversation to exactly what seniors are thinking about before they make their purchases. Eldercare expert, speaker, and author Barbara McVicker, president of Stuck in the Middle, exemplifies this by showing how what is desirable about senior care facilities is beginning to change, not in terms of need, but priority.

“It used to be that people cared about the food and cleanliness. Now they want amenities, price, location, on-site medical professionals, a place for all the rest of their lives (continuing care), security, activities, decreased isolation, continuing education programs…”
What does this have to do with our discussion? A lot, actually. Senior consumer habits are changing, a lot. In 2018, 60.7% of people ages 65+ use the Internet. Mobile usage is on the rise as well. One recent study showed that around 70% of all the disposable income in the United States comes from this age bracket. Want to know who is the fastest growing demographic of social media users in the U.S.? People over 72! All these things combined means that the senior portion of the population is seeing aging in a new way. This isn’t necessarily a time to wind down, but to use the spare time and income that many seniors have in order to enhance their quality of life, be it through activities, learning, family time, or anything else.

One needs to keep this shift in mind when talking about aging. Our beauty product and hospice care example may be able to keep their copy somewhat the same. But what if you were marketing an adult day care service? You may want to change your copy to emphasize entertaining activities that are appropriate for an aging group versus selling how comfortable the rooms are as a primary point. We all know that people are living longer, but people are also being relatively healthy and active for longer as well. Aging is no longer as socially or recreationally crippling as it was historically. Don’t forget that when crafting your senior-facing copy.

Bringing Things Together

To sum things all up, if you are in a business with a strong senior focus, you need to somehow strike the balance of being honest but being understanding about aging, while still being able to meet the needs of adult children who may be in the driver’s seat regarding decisions. How do you juggle all of those different directions? Well, you don’t, at least not alone. Enlisting a professional writing service is your best chance to make sure that you hit all the right notes. When it comes to aging services, the best way to navigate the glut of options is to show your consumer base that you have a level of understanding of what they are going through. This means being able to communicate effectively regarding the aging process itself.

Need Writing Help?

If writing expertly-crafted blog posts isn’t your thing, you can always hire a professional content writing service like Article-Writing.co. We’ll take care of the words, so you can get back to growing your senior health business.