We are maximalists when we reach maturity, states most of 60+ persons. Europe's rapidly growing segment of the older population indicates the need for digital services. What kind of seniors live near us? Elderly people in Lithuania are not an exception. Laura Balciune, a Kaunas resident who brings them together, founded a senior model agency, a senior dating site, and publishes the magazine 60+ with a circulation of 45,000, says that this group provokes change in all generations.
“Working with older people, I face a different reality to the one we usually envision in the mass media. Silver age can be different, and much brighter – without illnesses and not imprisoned “between” four walls. Golden-agers are active in various organizational activities, go to dances and seek entertainment. I meet them joining a seniors' modeling agency and going to the “60+ Cinema” sessions," says Mrs. Balciune, a public activist and founder of the magazine.
Seniors are using digital services, and digital literacy has been even more highlighted during the quarantine years. Silver citizens are becoming more active media users. They are not only interested in managing their utility services, but are also active in dating, communicating using social media tools, and organizing travels. While most senior tourists prefer exploring Lithuania, they also enjoy visiting charming Italian and other South Europe cities. There is an inspiring example of one Lithuanian woman, who took a month road trip to the Balkans on her own.
“We all want to travel, to get together and be an active society members. As far as tourism is concerned, seniors love to travel, but they need a different pace, thus mixed tourist groups are not the best choice. Anyway, silver tourists are not only interested in wellness programs, but also prefer to keep their lifestyle active,” notes Mrs. Balciune. While organizing the Senior Citizen of the Year, she met many energetic people and heard their fascinating life stories.
Although recently Lithuanian TV shows presented modern seniors, the majority of them are quite passive and feel isolated. “We tend to see the details rather than the whole picture. When the media shows a personality doing a split, for example, it forgets and fails to present a much bigger picture that this person has been doing sports and gymnastics for all his life,” she emphasizes.
However, service companies are not in any hurry to change their approach and are keeping a rather reserved approach toward the growing silver audience. Of course, there are some inspiring examples, such as the nationwide initiative “Prisijungusi Lietuva”. Seniors need to improve their digital skills as payment patterns are evolving and cash payments are declining in regions.
The magazine 60+ features interesting stories, expert opinions, advice, and offers for seniors. It aims not only to provide useful information but also to inspire target groups by presenting exceptional everyday heroes. The magazine manager L. Balciune hopes to cooperate with technology developers and to create an app dedicated to seniors that could make their utility online services easier, and entertainment offers more engaging.
"New digital experiences help to live a fuller life, where both communication and social needs are met. This is especially necessary for older people living in regions, where the local or national press is not able to inform seniors quickly about digitized utility and entertainment services available. The new app would provide relevant offers for seniors and would create a great leap towards the real digitalization of seniors' needs," emphasizes Mrs. Balciune.
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