Why Do Aging Adults Act the Way They Do?

June 3, 2020


Aging is not for sissies.  As we age, we experience an onslaught of losses which impact our quality of life.  These can include, but are not limited to losses like:

  • Loss of physical strength
  • Loss of health
  • Loss of peer group/friends
  • Loss of financial independence
  • Loss of authority

And more.  When you think about it, it’s really not a happy proposition!

By recognizing and addressing these losses – and the accompanying fears that go along with the losses – a product or service can be positioned to win the hearts of senior consumers.


Seniors are in a daily battle to maintain control of their lives in the face of such losses.

Frank Luntz, a political consultant and pollster, identifies major concerns among Americans, 65+, in his book, What Americans Really Want.  High on his list is the need for control, because it speaks directly to what many of aging adults fear most: loss of autonomy that results in dependence on others.  It is an anticipated outcome of aging, and for most elderly, it represents their decline as contributors to society.


Another concern among aging adults – related to a degree to loss of control – is “peace-of-mind.” Peace-of-mind is not “security,” though security can certainly contribute to a senior’s peace-of-mind.  It’s bigger than that.  Peace-of-mind means a senior has nothing to fear.  As losses pile up, fears created by loss – actual and anticipated – grow.  Hence, peace-of-mind becomes increasingly important.


It should not come as a surprise that Luntz also identified “health” as key concern.  And yes, this relates to control and peace-of-mind.  Seniors want to remain active and in control physically – that they still have the power to live their lives the way they wish.  Fear related to loss of health impacts peace-of-mind.  The promise of “healthy living” or a “healthy lifestyle” makes a senior feel more active, in control and confident about life.

Freedom from Financial Worry

Control, peace-of-mind and good health are linked to another key concern: freedom from financial worry.  According to an USB Investor Watch study, 42% of wealthy seniors said their greatest concern is becoming “a burden to their children in their old age.”  You can imagine how this concern escalates with less wealthy seniors! 

Related to this concern is that seniors often feel they are entitled to live well in reward for a life well lived – the “American Dream,” if you will.  This is an expectation that, if not met, can lead to despair.


Probably the single greatest fear among aging adults is loneliness.  Lifelong friends and peer groups are thinning out.  Children and grandchildren have lives of their own, which interfere with and limit the amount of time they can spend with their aging loved one.  Declining health may prohibit the senior from getting out of the house – making their house somewhat of a prison.  Loneliness is undeniably one of the most painful components of the aging process.

Ultimately, it all comes back to the need to control.  Aging adults grasp tightly to whatever they can control, aware that what they control is fleeting.  Marketing messages that promise to help seniors maintain control longer are likely to win them over as customers.