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Deceiving the Older American

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Television is, for many older Americans, the medium where they receive their news and, in the process, are exposed to ads directed specifically to them. Ask any person who's in the business of buying ads for TV and they'll point out to you the demographics they're looking for.

Ask any TV producer who they're aiming their show for and, similarly, they know who their viewers are, their income level,

medical conditions, and interests. Everyone uses services to tease out these vital, and extremely lucrative, bits of information. Without these details, they'd be swimming in the dark and throwing their money away, hoping some of it might hit the right target. No one does that.

Swirling in this mix of entertainment, information and just plain daily escape from the cares of life are carefully placed ads to latch on to what Maslow said were the pieces of the triangle

toward self-actualization. TV isn't going to help us achieve self-actualization, nor is it going to be our classroom (and Maslow theory was flawed anyway), but that's exactly what these ads imply. Inherent in this triangle is the element of fear and that is what most TV ads play on; fear of loss, lack of funds, health fears, loneliness, self-esteem, death.

Advertisements are good. I'd be disingenuous if I said I didn't believe that because they do bring important information to us in a highly acceptable manner. But then there are the other ads and those are the ones I find most misleading.

Older adults are prone, by the nature of our human imperfection, to a variety of illnesses. Despite our best efforts, we can develop an illness, whether chronic or incidental and passing. When that happens we, obviously, may need medical help. But do we have all the illnesses they're indicating and are we going to be the "rats in the maze" for the companies wanting to make billions on a new, esoteric medication?

Listen carefully to the side effect of these "new and improved" drugs and you will be shocked. Not only may be shocked, shocked

because they can include a side effect to end all side effects, death. Some mention stroke in passing while others give you the symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction without telling you that's what it is. "See your doctor" is a favorite, but your doctor may have no information on this other than what the "detail" person (aka salesperson) gave to them on a visit with promotional materials for the drug. How would you know if you had an allergic reaction to this med if they didn't tell you who might have this? I can't figure it out.

What about being able to pay your bills when an older person is on a fixed income, especially in an age where they're threatening to cut Social Security? What is the answer to this fear? Of course, it's the reverse mortgage which will provide money for bills, vacations or other expenses. Sure, get that reverse mortgage and you can stay in your home with money to spare--until you have to sell and go into assisted care.

Then the hammer hits. You no longer own your home, for all intents and purposes, and it will be sold to repay that reverse

mortgage. If anything is left, you may get a payout. Yeah, Tom Selleck knows that's a good deal for you. "I trust them," he says from his script on TV, but he also get a pretty nice paycheck from them for saying that.

How many older actors are selling this idea? To whom do you suppose they're selling it? Yes, your parents, grandparents and any older person who believes them because they're famous.

What about those insurance policies that have "no medical exam" or where "you can't be turned down?" They're insurance policies, aka death policies. Of course you won't be turned down because someone only collects when you die and you get nothing if you pull out sooner after you've paid in who knows how much money. They are not medical insurance by any means, but that "no medical exam" and the other phrase would seem to indicate they are and you have to hurry to get in.

Again, a game show host is selling you this wonderful idea. And, of course, they'll give you a free information booklet, DVD or small gift. The booklet will praise the benefits, but neglect the downside. Would you expect otherwise?

Preying on older individuals, I think, is one of the lowest forms of deceit and we should uncover it whenever we can. This is my small effort.

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