Oftentimes, the opposite—disinterest in one’s appearance—is an early warning sign or symptom of Alzheimer’s, or cognitive impairment, or other kinds of dementia or depression in the aging.
In my work with the elderly through the years, I’m impressed over and over again with how— regardless of the age or health of my elders (of the cared-for who are part of my case work)—the common thread is their concern over their looks.
In nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, there is always a waiting line when the beautician arrives for a weekly visit. Most facilities even have a special fund that the family can deposit money in, specifically for personal care such as manicures, pedicures and hair styling. My elderly clients still living in their own homes usually have a weekly appointment with the local beauty parlor for a hair styling, manicure and pedicure. I have a 96-year old client who would never miss her appointment for her styling.
Even when an elder may opt for a surgical procedure that will enhance looks, regardless of the risk involved, this is not mere vanity. I have a yoga instructor who is in her 80's and who recently underwent foot surgery to remove a bone in her toe, a hammer-toe condition. Before, she hadn't liked the look of the toe and the way it stuck up in her shoes and caused a bit of pain when she walked. She had the bone removed, underwent a bit of rehab therapy, and now is happy to have "perfect-looking feet" again.
Elders are buyers and users of many kinds of cosmetics and creams, colognes and perfumes, cleansers and deodorants, plus related products. From beauty salons to beauty products the elderly are shoppers, consumers, and markets for the same kinds of beauty aids and skin care. If they are unable to get to the local mall, the elders have computers now available at libraries, senior centers and in their own homes. The elders shop for themselves online as well as in brick-and-mortar stores...shopping not only for themselves but for their children and grandchildren, which means they triple the amount of money transacted. Little wonder, marketing to this age group is increasing.
My case-work elders receive "junk mail" from many different companies. There are usually 20 pieces of such tossable mail for each piece of saved mail. When I do my case-management rounds and go through the mail, I spend most of my time sorting and discarding flyers but have formed enough of an eye for such stuff to advise the mailers how to make such pieces more eye-catching, and more broad-based in their appeal, and more likely to be retained for at least a second glance.
Telemarketing, also, gets a bad name here. My elders take phone calls requesting them to purchase many products over the phone, with a credit card, but I counsel moderation and also assign case workers and home-health aides who keep a pretty tight reign on such matters. That’s in contrast to stories I hear of, like the one about a woman who has 20 bottles of face moisturizer in her closet from a single marketing call she succumbed to. Now that’s vain. That’s vanity.