Modern Maturity Magazine

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"Life is What You Make it"

Nov 18, 2001
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Entertaining articles for seniors, wide variety of subjects, informative Websites, complementary for AARP members

Cons:Needs more articles of interest to active seniors, isn't available on newsstands

The Bottom Line: Join AARP and receive the bimonthly magazine Modern Maturity at no additional cost. You'll find the contents informative, educational and entertaining.


Modern Maturity (MM) is America's largest circulation magazine. It is a publication of The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP. Thirty Five million members belong to this association. Because of its sheer numbers, AARP is a powerful political force in America. While not all members agree with the political stands of the association (some members feel the association should take tougher positions) the association does address the major concerns of older Americans. It is very active in local, state and national legislation. It also assists member in serving the community through volunteerism and helps older Americans find employment and assistance with tax filing.

Through its publications and Website, the association advises its members on various issues such as Social Security, pensions, Medicare/Medicaid, health plans and coverage, insurance, taxes, volunteerism and retirement. Because of the association's name, some people think only retired people belong in AARP. They are mistaken. The association welcomes everyone 50 and older. I joined when I turned 50 and signed up for 10-year membership that is no longer offered. If you are 50 or older, I urge you to become a member and make your voice heard. One-year membership is $10; three-year membership cost $27. Call 1-800-424-3410 or member@aarp.org for member information.

With an AARP membership comes a complementary magazine subscription. Until this year all members received six issues of Modern Maturity magazine yearly. This year AARP launched a new magazine for its youngest members ages 50-56 called My Generation. It hopes to attract and keep younger members by gearing a magazine that is more youthful in content, writing style and outlook. I think this is a great idea. Older members (57+) will continue to receive Modern Maturity (MM). All members also receive the AARP Bulletin, which is a monthly newspaper and lots of discounts and deals in stores, car rental companies, airlines, hotel and online services. My membership has more than paid for itself with the discounts I have received. The magazine is a bonus.

Modern Maturity is a BI-monthly magazine that has been publishing for 44 years. AARP allocates $2.40 from each member's dues for the cost of the magazine. The cover price is $2.95. Why there is a cover price is beyond me since the magazine is not sold on newsstands.

Many people don't think that a free magazine can be worth reading - not so! Modern Maturity contains a wealth of information for older Americans. I think the magazine strikes just the right balance between being informative and still entertaining. I also like the variety of the topics discussed. Readers rely on Modern Maturity (MM) for timely articles on health, nutrition and food, lifestyles, entertainment, political issues and opinions, work, travel and leisure activities. I do wish the magazine would offer more articles for the active senior of all ages. The magazine editors seem to think we all sit around worrying about how to make a proper brew of tea.

Covers are attractive but not really appealing. Most readers don't feel chic reading the issues. Covers feature young looking older Americans-often celebrities. Five cover articles are listed on the covers. No pages are listed but the Table of Contents is found immediately inside the cover-great! A typical issue has just fewer than 100 pages. The layout of the magazine is good and the issues are easy to navigate. The writing style is good but most of the material is aimed at members over 65.

About 30% of the magazine are ads, which isn't bad. They advertise products that appeal to older readers and most feature older citizens. Some ads, especially travel, appeal to all ages. The magazine has a Shopping Guide (two pages) aimed at older Americans. There are also pre-paid card inserts for AARP membership and AARP auto/ life insurance information. To give you a better idea of MM's content, I'll make some specific comments about the current issue, November/December 2001.

There are 14 departments. E Street is a one-page essay from the Editorial Director and gives background information about the issue. This month his editorial is entitled "Two Days in Infamy," it unites WWII remembrances with the 9-11 terrorist attack. The magazine is responding to readers' requests for more stories about Pearl Harbor memories. The issue's main theme seems to be on Pearl Harbor.

The director talks about WWII on the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and introduces two articles (12 pages) in the issue. They are great reading for history buffs of all ages. Blood Brothers, an especially interesting article for veterans to read, is about the Battling Bastards of Bataan, American GI WWII survivors of a four-month siege in the Philippines. The second article is called "Sons of Pearl." Both are well written and a tribute to our veterans-many of whom are forgotten in most mainstream magazines. Collage pictures in black and white and color introduce and accompany the articles.

In this issue, My Word Department also relates to WWII. "I'll be Seeing You" is a story of a young bride who says goodbye to her GI husband. The two-page department also brings the story alive with a map of Oahu and black and white plus color photos of the newlyweds. There is also background information on the couple at the conclusion, which makes the article even more personal to readers.

Letters contains interesting mail from readers. This issue has several letters critical of the magazine's slant on previous articles. The Navigator Department is a fun section that has short pieces on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, consumer products/books, pets, travel and finance. I wish that Modern Maturity would expand this department. This is a quick read section that is not only informative; it is also fun. The photos are jazzy and youthful looking. I always read this section. The five pages cram in lots of fun information.

In the current issue's Navigator, readers learn the secret of long life. Another piece debunks the American Heart Association's importance of low cholesterol for healthy individuals over 70. Find out what farm raised Ostrich, Kangaroo, Alligator and Rattlesnake meat tastes like. Do acupressure bracelets really help relieve motion sickness? Under Flash, readers learn about better memory, new vitamin-rich apparel, how the stock market seems to relate to weather conditions and the importance of exercise. Since I have no pets, I skipped the Pets section but it covers traveling with pets. Pet owners will find it interesting to read. The travel section lists new airline security restrictions that is very helpful and informative. Under Mr. Money is a timely discussion on Bonds. Under adventure is a story about a WWII veteran who hope to set a world record of being the oldest person to solo circumnavigate the globe in his boat. Good luck!

After Thoughts has a poignant essay reflecting on America's reaction to the terrorists attack on September 11. Everyone may not agree with it especially those who lost loved ones. "Bless This Hut" urges Americans to pursue planetary peace while still addressing the pain the terrorists inflicted. It doesn't mean ignoring or forgiveness. What I find especially helpful is the piece that follows "Coping with Fear in Trouble Times." There are four concrete suggestions for readers. Accompanying the articles are wonderful quotes from famous personalities and small sad photos of the World Trade Center disaster.

I really enjoyed the Face to Face article on Jack Welch. This is the fourth magazine article I have read this month on the retiring GE CEO. This is as excellent as the others are only shorter. There is also a time line on his life. Read his very positive outlook on life. All retirees will love it as well as readers who like to follow the lives of influential people. I found it very interesting and wished it were longer. There are a couple of smaller black and white photos of Jack as a boy and a large more recent color one of Jack today. The interesting article covers his humble beginnings, his successes and failures, his ambition and what the future holds for him. This article is a great choice for the magazine to include.

In Hard Question different aspects of relevant topics are discussed thoroughly and fairly. In this issue it has a timely topic of "Holiday Burnout." Adults of all ages can relate to this subject. I enjoyed the two-page discussion and so will most readers. It's an interesting read and extremely helpful in its outlook.

Healthy Cooking is a wonderful department, which in this issue naturally covers Thanksgiving dinner. "Everything but the Turkey" covers healthy side dishes that contain only three ingredients. The magazine always offers variations of the recipes and it does include nutritional information. Colorful and appetizing photos always accompany the recipes. I plan on trying the Apples and Cranberry: Compote and Relish for our family dinner. Ingredients are apples, cranberries and brown sugar - how simple! Just Kidding actually does include a terrific roast turkey recipe after all. I love this department for simple, tasty and healthy recipes.

In this issue's Master Class Department, readers learn how to make a proper cup of tea from Fergie. While I did read the article, I always use tea bags so the information, while entertaining wasn't useful to me. I don't even know anyone who makes tea using loose tea. But, if you know anyone who needs this information refer him/her to me. Several photos accompany the catchy article "Of Tea I Sing" including ones of Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth each drinking tea. This is perhaps an enjoyable article for much older retirees who have the time to follow her instructions.

Each issue MM highlights books that appeal to older Americans. This issue Book Club discusses books on painting, tools, still life and a French culinary encyclopedia, none of which really interests me. I rarely find books listed that I want to purchase but I always check the offering just in case and keep up with what new. Seniors will enjoy the puzzle page. This month the theme is Pearl Harbor and the puzzle "45 for '45" uses words related to Pearl Harbor. I think it's great for the magazine to include a page of puzzles since we all know that it is good for senior to do memory games.

Every issue also contains The AARP Exclusive department. I really like this section. The Calendar has lists of AARP conventions, parties, receptions, exhibits, seminars, health fairs and other meetings of interest to older Americans. This department also answers specific questions seniors have about topics such as Social Security benefits, pensions, taxes, prescription drug plans & Medicare/Medicaid, et cetera. This month, however most questions and answers dealt with coping after the 9-11 disaster. The department always has great questions and detailed answers. It is one of the most valuable departments of MM. Readers will also find deals on special consumer products listed here.

I would like to advise anyone with questions on any of the above topics to log on to the Websites www.modernmaturity.org or www.aarp.org. You can search all these topics plus others. AARP archives all topics of interest to older Americans. The sites are an excellent resource for information on employment, volunteerism, age discrimination, taxes, health plus local, state and national legislation. The Websites are great also for younger adults faced with needing information on caring for or assisting older people.

The Big Up-Oh Department is just a fun and entertaining page with photos of famous people celebrating milestone birthdays. In December, Barbara Carrera, Bond Girl turns 50; so does Fuzzy Zoeller, Golfer. Archie, the cartoon character, turns 60 along with singers Art Garfunkel and Dionne Warwick. Rodney Dangerfield, by the way, turns 80.

The features naturally change for each issue but they are usually entertaining and of interest to older Americans. As a Grandparent I especially love "Wow Your Grandkids." Leading experts show how to drive a bumper car (Mario Andretti,) build a bathtub boat out of walnut shells, (Joe Farcus, chief ship designer, Carnival Cruise Lines,) catch a firefly (Derek Jeter) and tell a joke (Phyllis Diller.) Readers also learn to make an ice sculpture, spin a basketball on a finger, train a kitty, skip a stone, arm wrestle, weave a special braid, master the Yo-Yo and win at Monopoly. Parents will also enjoy it.

Parents, as well as grandparents will find "Play's the Thing" very informative and interesting. It gives the magazine's top picks for best toys this year. It very timely appears in this issue. It is an excellent piece with photos, prices, suggested age and manufacturer information. I liked all the ideas and there is a good range of prices.

Readers who are interested in pop will enjoy "The Real King of Pop" featuring Quincy Jones (Q). This is also the cover story. See photos of Q with the Lionel Hampton Band, Leslie Gore, Count Basie & Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. There are also small photos of him with Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and even Bill Clinton plus more. If you enjoy celebrity articles, you'll enjoy this look back. It has lots of insider information on the celebrities and their connection with Q as well as stuff about Q's life. I liked the friendly writing style of the writer and the photos are great. Great article for music lovers.

A health feature discusses some of the common causes of fatigue and describes "10 Secret Energy Boosters." Well they aren't really secret anymore after they are read by 35 million readers are they? The article is helpful even to younger adults but most readers will know the causes. Some lesser-known causes are dehydration, low testosterone and eyestrain. Better known causes are Thyroid problems, medications, lack of sleep and boredom. The five-page feature has great photos. The title "Power Up" is printed in a large colorful bold font that is very prominent.

Even though some article will interest younger adults, I recommend MM just for those over 65. Younger adults will find the contents mostly boring and less relevant to their daily lives. For member younger than 55, I recommend My Generation. If you are a member of AARP 50-56 and are not receiving My Generations, give them a call and request it. I sometimes receive both. If you'd like to subscribe to either magazine just join AARP and one of them depending on your age will arrive in your mailbox bi-monthly. It's a terrific deal. The magazines are very entertaining. And, The AARP is a wonderful non-profit, non-partisan organization deserving your support.


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