The Washington Post

Pfizer want us to ‘Get Old’

I’m pretty skeptical about pharmaceutical companies’ public service campaigns; whatever the feel-good benefits, in the back of your mind you suspect it all comes down to trying to sell their products.

But still I find interesting a program launched Monday morning by Pfizer (in partnership with 10 health-care advocacy groups listed below) that invites people of all ages to share their attitudes toward and stories about aging. They’ve set up a Web site — — where people can do that sharing and also get information about various aspects of, well, getting old. Pfizer says it wants to be a leader in this area, helping open a dialogue about and promoting better understanding of aging.

Pfizer’s 10 partners are: Alzheimer’s Association, Easter Seals, International Longevity Center at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Men’s Health Network, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Black Nurses Association, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Consumers League, National Family Caregivers Association, Patient Advocate Foundation, Society for Women’s Health Research, Visiting Nurse Associations of America, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

To mark the launch, the company has released results of a Gallup & Robinson poll conducted in early May in which 1,017 people ages 18 and up were asked about everything from when they had their first kiss and what year they had the best summer of their lives to how they’re approaching the prospect of aging. Maybe it’s because I’m 51 and figuring out what my approach to getting old might be, but I found some intriguing tidbits in the data.

For instance, the poll found:

— 70 percent of those 65 and older say they are more active at their age than their parents were at the same age; only 27 percent of people ages 18 to 34 say they are more active than their parents were when at the same age.

— 51 percent of all people surveyed think they look younger than their age, and 60 percent of those 50 to 64 feel they look five years or more younger than their age.

— On average, people think they’ll live to be 84.

— 73 percent of respondents said they were likely to consume a caffeinated beverage on any given day; 61 percent said they were likely to exercise, and 52 percent said they were likely to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables.

— The average person thought people should retire at age 64 — and named that age as the year people should stop running for president.

— 39 percent of people said they felt “optimistic” about getting old; 36 percent were “uneasy” about that, while 23 percent said they were “prepared.”

By the way, the average age at which respondents had their first kiss was 15, and the best summer of their lives was when they were 23.8 years old.

How do you feel about getting old? As my (older) brother points out, it’s way better than the alternative.


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