Aging group with zip

It is a group that includes Wayne Gretzky and Margaret Atwood. It also includes Danny Williams and Stephen Harper. It is the freshly labelled age category of the 45-plus, “zoomers,” or “boomers with zip.”

They have an expanding population, financial superiority and a growing collective will to come together to change the city, the province and the country, according to representatives for CARP (formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, which has kept its moniker but doesn’t use the long form).

National president of CARP, Moses Znaimer, took the lead in conveying that message at a public presentation at the auditorium in the Health Sciences Centre Sunday.

The presentation, in which Znaimer was joined by CARP’s vice-president of advocacy, Susan Eng, was sponsored by the St. John’s-Avalon chapter of CARP and the MUN Pensioners Association.

The presentation began with a short film showing Znaimer’s views and a clip from the film “Network,” alongside statistics and statements on zoomers being ignored, under-represented or the victims of aging.

The clip showed Peter Finch, as anchorman Howard Beale screaming, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

As muted chatter arose throughout the auditorium, Znaimer began, “Just about everyone wants to live long, but nobody wants to be old.”

Znaimer, a media pioneer who co-founded Much Music, Fashion Television and SPACE, explained to the group of about 250, CARP believes the title of “zoomer” conveys the energy and activity that is present in the older generation.

Aging does not equal decline, he said, particularly not these days.

Life expectancy has grown a large amount in a rather short period of time, said Znaimer, with Canadians living just over 60 years in the 1940s and 80-plus years now.

And older people have spending power. The zoomers are, perhaps most significantly, responsible for approximately 58 per cent of consumer spending nation-wide, he said. “The world is run by 50 to 70-year olds. The 20 year-olds, they’re in the basement. They don’t have a pot to pee in.”

At 57, Dennis Madden is a retired teacher. With his family raised (and now moved out-of-province), Madden said he is one of a growing number ready to live life large and for himself for a while.

“How do I finally say, ‘it’s my turn. I’m No. 1 and I don’t have to feel guilty about it,” said Madden, standing at a microphone, as the auditorium erupted in applause.

“I think you just did,” said Znaimer in response.

At 78 years old, Dorothy Williams is a zoomer and one of 1,400 CARP members on the Avalon. Williams said she appreciates the strength with which Znaimer is advocating for the rapidly expanding age group.

“He’s brought lots of new ideas since he took over,” she said, particularly noting the development of Zoomer Magazine. The magazine features information on travel, beauty, finances, health and other topics for older persons (The website – – received 12.7 million page views in the first half of 2009, according to CARP’s short film).