In the current issue, the front page has a picture of Perry Como. Inside stories extol the beauty of aging naturally and the importance of planned health care. The ads offer information about doctors who make house calls and funeral homes that promise dignity and respect.
The Senior Advocate, one of the Washington area's newest newspapers, is devoted to the concerns and the issues affecting the estimated 400,000 senior citizens who live here. Each month about 50,000 copies of the 16-page tabloid are delivered to senior centers, nursing homes and libraries as the Advocate seeks to capture a piece of the emerging senior market.
"We are trying to create an awareness of the problems of aging," said editor Michael Bomar, 59.
The same approach is being tried with increasing frequency around the country as marketing professionals focus on the growth of the elderly population and the potential for profits with news and product information for seniors.
"It is the fastest growing publishing field in the country," said Leonard J. Hansen, a pioneer in the development of senior newspapers. Hansen's company, Senior Publishers Group of San Diego, provides advertising for 87 senior newspapers around the country, including Prime Time News in Baltimore.
The growth of news about senior issues and programs, according to Hansen and others, is evident in several growth areas, including:Senior newspapers. In 1977, only eight commercial newspapers were published for senior readers in the United States, and they had a combined circulation of 227,000, Hansen said. Today, there are about 150 senior papers with a circulation of 5.3 million, he said. By next year, Hansen predicts, there will be 200 senior newspapers with a circulation of 8 million. National newsletters about senior products and services. Two years ago, the Silver Spring-based CD Publications had two newsletters about seniors. This year the company added two more newsletters, Selling to Seniors and Families of the Aged. Syndicated newspaper material about seniors. Four months ago, the Maturity News Service began as the first news service devoted exclusively to issues of interest to older Americans. Underwritten by the American Association of Retired Persons, MNS material is distributed by the New York Times Syndicate.
Nearly 40 newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Miami News and Los Angeles Daily News, buy the MNS package.
"Marketing to seniors is big business now," said Geraldine Hamilton, an aging specialist with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Meanwhile, officials of Washington area government agencies on aging say that their nonprofit publications for seniors have been growing along with commercial senior newspapers.
Fairfax County's Golden Gazette has about 25,000 subscribers, up about 7,000 from two years ago, said editor Carol Clovis Barkdull, adding that the increase reflects promotional efforts, growing interest in senior news and the rising senior population.
The Gazette, like the Advocate, is put together by a staff of specialists with contributions from senior readers. Nilo Olin, a 73-year-old retired cartoonist and photographer, provides illustrations and cartoons for the Gazette. Retired Patent Office worker Henry French, 68, is the Gazette's photographer. And Hazel Jones, a retired Navy Department employe, oversees the mailing list for the eight-page tabloid.
Unlike the Advocate, the Gazette does not attempt to cover national news developments in the field of aging. Instead, the Gazette concentrates on local senior activities and general information, such as what to do in a medical emergency.
But both publications reflect the scramble under way for senior readers.
Hansen, who created the country's first senior newspaper 10 years ago in San Diego and now chairs the country's second largest senior publishing group, after Modern Maturity, said editorial material and advertising in senior papers is intended to give mature readers what they are not getting elsewhere.
"TV still depicts a younger world, in which life ends at 44 or 49 but there is nobody over 55," Hansen said. "And that is where we pick up. We are not concerned about acme, pediatrics, first-time investors or how to do Europe on the cheap."
Instead, Hansen and other senior newspaper specialists say, they are trying to provide news and product information that more realistically reflects senior life styles and preferences.
Explained Ron Hemig, general manager of Senior Spectrum, a group of eight California senior newspapers: Seniors today "have better health, equity in their homes, an attitude of having a little fun and enjoying their golden years, a pension fund -- things that seniors never had before."