"There's nothing wrong with bingo and chicken," said Tom Kamber, before explaining why you won't find either in the senior center he runs in Manhattan.
Instead, members of the Senior Planet Exploration Center are given virtual-reality goggles and other digital gadgets to play with, though most head straight for a wall of computers to check their Facebook accounts or shop online.
A group of 15 seniors, some in their 80s, clad in sportswear, huddle around their fitness coach. People come for classes on starting their own businesses, using smartphones, booking travel and setting up online dating profiles. "We just demystify the technology and away they go," Kamber said.
Businesses could learn from this. With longer lives, more free time and a lot of cash, older people clearly present a "silver dollar" opportunity.
In the U.S., the older-than-50s set will shortly account for 70 percent of disposable income, according to a forecast by Nielsen, a market-research organization. Global spending by households led by older-than-60s could amount to $15 trillion by 2020, twice as much as in 2010, predicts Euromonitor, another market-research outfit. Much of this will go for leisure.
Yet the market has failed to respond to this opportunity, even though it has been clear for a long time that the baby boomers would start to retire in larger numbers, in better health and with more money to spend than any previous generation. They feel much younger than their parents did at their age, and most of them have no intention of quietly retreating from the world.
"Retirement used to be a brief period between cruise ships and wheelchairs, with a bout of norovirus," said Joe Coughlin, who runs the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now it has become a complete new stage of life, as long as childhood or midlife, which boomers want to structure very differently; "yet we still offer my grandfather's retirement."
Adventure travel for people older than 60 has become a booming business opportunity. In the United States, more than 40 percent of adventure travelers are older than 50, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association. In Britain, older travelers are the largest spenders in the industry, with the fastest growth in the 65-74 age group. Instead of comfortable cruises or bus tours, they demand action, from expeditions to the Arctic to cultural trips to Asia.
Jane Dettloff, a 73-year-old from Minnesota, has just returned from a two-week cycling tour in Chile. "The culture, the cuisine, the beaches and — oof — the Andes wine!"
By day, the 16 women, aged 61 to 87, pedaled, chatted and "felt like young girls again." By night they enjoyed "wine-o'clock, without the whining about pills."
The travel company that organized the tour, VBT, does not explicitly bill itself as a specialist in senior travel, but offers subtle hints: "at your own pace," "since 1971," "good wine." More than 90 percent of its customers are older than 50.
Another emerging market is dating. Whereas overall divorce rates are falling in some countries, including the United States, Australia and Britain, "silver splits" are soaring as new pensioners suddenly face the prospect of spending a lot more time with their partner.
Americans older than 60 are now getting divorced at twice the rate as they were in 1990, and Britons at three times the rate, wrote Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott in "The 100-Year Life."
Older people seem more concerned than younger ones about the risks of online dating, prompting the setting up of specialized sites such as Stitch, an online companionship site with 85,000 members.
Stitch screens members and organizes social events, explains Andrew Dowling, the co-founder. "Most people want companionship, but dating does change with age.
Between now and 2030, most of the growth in consumption in the developed world's cities will come from the older-than-60s crowd, according to McKinsey, a consultancy.
So this is the market to go for, but to provide the wherewithal, the financial industry will first have to reinvent itself.