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ICAA 's Profile


International Council on Active Aging
United States

About Me:

Colin Milner, ICAA BloggerColin Milner, founder and chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA), is one of the North America’s foremost visionaries on the health and well-being of the older adult. His passion to change the way society perceives aging is only rivaled by his desire to help inform and educate health and wellness professionals that work with adults age 50 and above. Milner is an award winning writer, public speaker, industry leaders and advisory to many leading health organizations.

Recent Posts by ICAA

Constructing Functional Environments for Older Adults

by ICAA August 30, 2013

The environment(s) that we build or live in are vital to enhancing our quality of life and our life experiences. Environments can encourage, or discourage, people of all ages to lead an active, engaged life. When it comes to creating compelling environments for your older consumer, think about how to design and build them so they are inclusive of all people and their abilities.

One place to start is with a visioning process. Bring together your staff, consumers, vendors and key partners to share their thoughts on your current or proposed settings, and what they feel will make the environment more compelling. Many times it can be the little things that make a difference. From the colors you choose, to ease of use, and creativity to inclusiveness, how you incorporate details matters.

Another strategic approach is to hire a group of older adults to visit your current place of business and those of your competitors. Ask them to write down what they liked and what they did not. Did the lighting make it easy to see? How were the bathrooms and locker rooms? Did the front desk, fitness areas, café, and so on enhance the experience or detract from it, and why? What would they change to make the environment more engaging? Once you have gained this market intelligence, create a large storyboard where recommendations, pictures and more can be placed in full view of your staff. (A meeting room or office area is the best location.) Start the process of improvement, and don’t stop until you have addressed everything on the board. Then ask the same group to walk through your location again. What are their reactions now? This simple method can help you create a compelling, inclusive, and ageless environment for your business.

A thought to ponder: Environments provide experiences, good and bad, and good experiences create memories that bring consumers back. How will you make your environment(s) compelling?

Diversity Among Older Adults Requires Diverse Solutions

by ICAA July 29, 2013

There were 810 million people over age 60 worldwide in 2012, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Harvard Professor Dr.David Bloom, a world-renowned demographer and economist, has revealed that every week over one million people around the world turn age 65. Yet, addressing population aging is less about the numbers of older people and more about their diversity.


A lifetime of diverse experiences, and the behaviors they have created, makes the 65-and-over age group an extremely unique segment of the population.These experiences and behaviors impact everything, from where and how people live, to their health status and quality of life. Meeting this group’s expectations and needs requires you to understand who they are. Consider, for example, their physical and cognitive abilities; health; age; work or marital status; sex; sexual orientation; race and culture, as well as whether or not they have children or grandchildren, access to transportation, and disposable income. This is why the older-adult market will challenge your creativity, strategic thinking, planning and implementation processes, and why one-size-fits-all solutions fail miserably with these individuals. To address this group, you will first need to establish this group’s wants and needs. Once you do so, think about what kinds of products or services you will create and deliver to meet the expectations of this large, diverse market.


A thought to ponder: Is the lack of diversity in your offerings limiting your success?

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Older adults

Ageism: How Negative Stereotypes of Aging Impede an Inclusive Society

by ICAA May 29, 2013

Aging used to be simple: People were born, moved through childhood into adolescence and adulthood, through midlife into old age (if they lived that long), and then died. They often established a home, a family and a vocation, before retiring to live out their “declining” years. Today, with 30-plus years added to the life span, a new view of aging has emerged—one filled with anticipation and accomplishment. Standing in the way of optimal aging, however, is that familiar foe: ageism. Whether the older adult is viewed as a burden to family and society or as a “superhero,” unrealistic perceptions of aging can, and do, have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of this population. The media and marketers use fear-based communications to sell “anti-aging” products and services, driving home the message that aging - a natural process in life - is negative and should be fought every step of the way.


The reality is we are all aging. And we all will experience old age, if we’re lucky enough to live that long.

While negative portrayals and messages of aging are common when marketers and the media address the older market, most of the time this population is practically invisible to them. Only five percent of marketing dollars are spent on individuals over age 50. Together with the lack of inclusive, appropriate products, this neglect can make older consumers feel irrelevant, even though they have money to spend.

What the media and marketers miss in all the above is the reality. By addressing the real challenges that older adults face and fulfilling the opportunities they desire for lifelong experiences, you and your organization can significantly impact the self-perception of these consumers and their quality of life, as well as the way others perceive them. To do so requires you and your staff, your organization and your suppliers to become advocates for this consumer group. How? Promote the message and language of autonomy, while fostering a “can do” attitude among customers. You will see a return on this investment in many ways, from consumer loyalty, to increased business, to a positive position in the greater community.

Of course, to achieve the above, you may also need to address perceptions within your organization. Columbia University's International Longevity Center in New York points out four categories of ageism: personal, institutional, intentional and unintentional. Living in an ageist society, we are often unaware of how stereotypes of aging shape our perceptions of older adults. Greater sensitivity begins with increased awareness.

Bottom line, perceptions become reality. The only way to change old perceptions is to create a new reality.

A thought to ponder: What is the societal cost of ageism and exclusion, versus self-empowerment and inclusion?

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