Advice on a new blog I want to construct
May 3, 2016 4:00 PM   Subscribe

I have run an ad-free blog for over 12 years. My site gets good traffic, is free, and I have enjoyed putting it together each day. Since I am retired and have lots of time available I thought of initiating another blog that would aim at boomers, those feeling the need to think of the future, retirement, health, and yes, even death and the inevitable pains of aging. What topics, issues, areas should I consider, and would you, as a reader of my question here, think such a free site might be of interest?

Because I am truly old, I find that many people my age think rather often of death, the loss of friends, illness, needs, health, and the meaning of old age and dying. In addition to those things I have mentioned I would run some interesting obituaries, philosophical views of death and dying, retirement issues, economics of retirement, old age, illness, etc. Any items you might suggest? I would also this time run those click ads to support my effort. What are the best ads, unobtrusive, to use?
posted by Postroad to Education (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am not so old (52), but I moderate a listserve comprising of women, most of whom are a great deal older than I am. I would venture to say that women would be your main audience, because women are often doing Google searches on the issues related to such, and in my own personal experience, my husband (who is 63) just don't care.

Also, I believe that women are the buyers of things, and thus, you should keep that in mind while constructing your new blog. Of course, caveats with man-related things would also apply, but in general, I would aim it at women.

Things that I have observed, with this aging cohort:

- Credit, and how to get it and keep it, as an aging woman;

- Careers, particularly hobby careers, or other sources of supplemental income;

- Advice: this is about trust. Where to get advice on anything from finances to home repair, to how to supplement income, how to avoid scams, etc. In short: you need to be a trustworthy source, to guide aging people, in particular, women, on how to avoid being taken advantage of. This is very important.

- Housing. Again, very important to aging women, if their partner dies off, how will they keep and/or secure stable housing.

- Community: how can aging women keep that sense of community, in an age where people are on the web and moving on, and it's all ethereal contacts? Where can they go in their community to physically sit with and interact with others of their co-hort?

That's what I would say would be a great resource, and blog, given the experience of the elders that I have dealt with, and my own personal experience. I don't think this is comprehensive, and there should be man-related stuff in there too, but this is just off the top of my head, so hope it helps in the eventual formation of your ideas.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:18 PM on May 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Be very careful to frame discussions of illness in terms of taking care of yourself and/or validating how people feel about how sucky it is. Similarly, be very careful in how you frame discussions of death so it doesn't wind up depressing or like it is encouraging people to end it. People who are ill and old and facing death need information on these subjects, but they are also super vulnerable to feeling hopeless, feeling triggered by articles on such subjects and being very reactive. So, these are inherently challenging subjects and an inherently touchy audience.

So, "Estate Planning" is a good topic and so is "An overview of the afterlife according to various religions." But "Wow, all my friends are dying and I feel so alone and what is the point?" is going to be an incredibly problematic thing to write about. The first two are about death, but they are also about the idea that there is a future -- even if your physical body dies, there is a future you need to think about and plan for.

When you do write about particularly negative topics, it may help to frame it in terms of "I am mad about this!" rather than "I am depressed about this." It is fine to be grumpy about aging and all that it entails. But be very careful you don't make people feel hopeless.
posted by Michele in California at 4:22 PM on May 3, 2016

I am not so old yet, but see older members of my family struggle to keep up with new trends, particularly related to technology. You might occasionally feature information about new services that might be of interest, and how to use them.

+1 on how to get good help and avoid getting taken advantage of.
posted by nalyd at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Taking care of elderly parents: creative arrangements?
Travel reviews
Lifelong learning opportunities: MOOCs, in-person courses, etc.
posted by lakeroon at 4:37 PM on May 3, 2016

How and when:
to apply for Medicare
to apply for Social Security
to apply for your state's version of the Affordable Care Act
to cash in your bonds, trust funds, IRA's, etc.
to whittle down your stuff
to make a will
to look into insurance (life, homeowners', renters', long-term care, etc.)
to pay off your credit card balances
to make funeral arrangements, or to at least write down somewhere how you'd like it to go out (burial? interment? urn? ashes scattered or saved or made into something?)
to apply for your retirement funds, if applicable
posted by Lynsey at 4:47 PM on May 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Are you a gamer? I've long thought the most ignored subject in gaming media is how aging can force older players to give up their favorite games, especially board games, but also video games, even role playing games become a huge challenge once your hearing starts to decline.
posted by Beholder at 4:51 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

My first thought was that this is depressing, and when I want to ruminate on death, I'll read Tolstoy. But I have thought of a few things that might interest you.
First of all, boomers are often presented as if we're all the same. Unless you're going for a specific niche, I'd urge you to bear in mind that some of us struggle financially, some are gay, some are people of color, some are atheists, some are Muslims, some are in long-term relationships, and some have been single for years (whether by choice or not). Guest bloggers representing different voices could be cool.
My primary concern at this point is avoiding the medical/industrial complex as much as possible, so I read a lot on health. However, I probably wouldn't go to your blog for that. I look for health blogs for health info, financial sites for financial info, etc. What I might go to your blog for are issues of age discrimination - not necessarily as a legal matter, but as a personal matter. I'm tired of reading articles about how boomers didn't struggle financially and ruined the world for future generations. I'm tired of acquaintances who would never in a million years generalize based on sex or race, but who freely make negative comments about boomers. As a writer who has only recently been able to devote a lot of time to my art, I'm tired of the breathless excitement over young writers and the hundreds of contests that are for young writers only (when they could just as easily be for unpublished or barely published writers if they're trying to encourage newcomers). I'm tired of the word "young" being used as a compliment. Remember Maggie Kuhn? She was awesome. According to Wikipedia, her Gray Panthers still exist, but the URL for the national website doesn't seem to be working.
I might also be interested in inspirational stores about people who are figuring out how to age well, unless wealth is essential to what they're doing.
posted by FencingGal at 6:13 PM on May 3, 2016

I don't think it's all that depressing.

I'd suggest a topic about how to plan a funeral when the deceased left no clues about their desires. We were in that position with my father-in-law, and I would have appreciated some guidance on how to get started.
posted by 26.2 at 6:58 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with all the caveats above about avoiding being gloomy or depressing, I think (IMO) it would be important to clear away the misconceptions about hospice. I do not profess do be an expert, but I gather that there is a Catch-22. The benefits of hospice are realized (I won't say enjoyed) across the span of time between when you become eligible and when you pass. But most wait until the final days at which point the admission is rushed and little other than pain relief is available. Even if my summary is wrong, I think the subject is valuable.
posted by forthright at 7:03 PM on May 3, 2016

I think this is a wonderful idea and I would read it. I am in my 50s and my parents in their 80s. I would love to see these issues addressed from their point of view. I have my own opinions on issues, but I recognize and appreciate that my mother's view may be coming from a different place. For example, the decision to move to assisted living. While it is easy for me to say, go for it mom, your life will be better, I intellectually get that she may be scared about the actual move and the implications of such moves. Haven spoken at length with a great aunt who lived to 100, she did say there was a point where death and dying were a big part of her life as her spouse and friends passed away, but the came a point around 90 when she was the only one standing among her group and she stopped worrying about it. I think being able to present all the issues from an older perspective, from the people who are going through it would be a great benefit to both them and us, the next generation up.
posted by AugustWest at 9:12 PM on May 3, 2016

As a person who isn't old, I would be most interested in reading about old people who have honed their skill of living life well:

Like that couple I heard about when I was on a bike tour - apparently they were bike touring in their 80s.

Or that woman I read about in the news who is in her 80s who was still seriously into ballet.

Or my grandmother, who is (and has always been) plenty-nine, and she went to Italy with her family and someone came up to her while they were in a tour group - my grandmother loves tours - and said that she looked like she was doing well. My grandmom first thought to herself 'grumble grumble my lower back hurts,' but then she looked around and realized she was the oldest person there. Still doing what she loves to do.

Or that man in his fifties whose doctor said he had six months to live, and who then takes up bicycling, and says he found a new passion and besides, it very literally saved his life. When he stopped me on a bike path to tell me his story (we had the same kind of bike), he had put thousands and thousands of miles on his beloved bike in just a couple years.

Or that guy in his late 70s who, after burying his wife and his parents, hears from a woman who remembered him from the Peace Corps fifty years prior, remembered where he was from and looked him up in the white pages (in the 21st century!) and falls in love all over again.

I would imagine that if I knew more people who were older, I would have more stories of people diagnosed as close to death who were living well, relatively, and what that looks like.
posted by aniola at 11:15 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are many wonderful ideas up thread- and as a 50 year old woman, I would definitely read your blog. As Marie Mon Dieu said, my husband would not.
posted by sarajane at 4:49 AM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm probably in your target demographic. I love to read interviews with successful older artists, especially if they only took up art seriously after 50. Also, older women in general can be fantastic interviewees, if they're articulate and have a sense of humour. Anonymous in-depth interviews about people's own lives could be fascinating. I'd love to hear about people's experiences, and what they would have done differently if they'd known more, advice they would have given their younger selves, and so on.
posted by Grunyon at 5:56 AM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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