In conducting research for this issue, I ran across an interesting statistic: currently, 37 percent of people who belong to health clubs are 55 or older. Duh. I guess these past few years I thought it was just my gym that had all the seniors hogging the Stairmaster, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it.

The statistical analyses we’ve run across are saying the same thing: Seniors are not only living longer; they’re living healthier, more vigorous lives. Check out our features on Super Seniors (page 81) and our annual Senior Survey (page 93) for proof.

You may notice a few new wrinkles in these two features. First off, you may notice something of a “Hollywood” feel to our Super Seniors story. That happened organically. I went through a few weeks’ period where every time I turned on the television, picked up a paper or logged onto the Internet, Harrison Ford wearing his Indiana Jones fedora was grinning back at me. From there, the article took on a life of its own as other celebs and high-profile seniors entered the picture.

Secondly, our 2008 Senior Survey, as you’ll read about, spun in a slightly different direction than past surveys. It focused more on health, healthcare and lifestyle issues than our past surveys have done. We like the new data that direction created and believe you and your practice will benefit from hearing the seniors speak on the topics that are on their mind.

Last month, I interviewed John Martin, of SIR Research, who conducted the Senior Survey. A video cut of the interview is now available at www.SeniorMarketAdvisor.com. In the snippet, Martin says something pretty interesting about the senior psyche. To paraphrase, he says those seniors who are the most active are the ones who are most likely to seek out financial advice and align themselves with advisors.

That’s pretty fascinating stuff and, to complete the circle, it’s not only what seniors think about and how they think about themselves, but how we perceive them and how they’re presented to us through the mass media. I read an article on CNN.com recently that made an interesting point: “In the ’80s, seniors had TV role models like the Golden Girls, Matlock and “Murder She Wrote’s” mystery-writing sleuth, Jessica Fletcher. Now baby boomers can look to Goldie Hawn, Diane Sawyer and Harrison Ford for inspiration as they near retirement age.”

A pretty striking shift if you ask me, but that’s where we are today –where seniors are vibrant, active and once again setting the “gold” standard for us to follow.