First we had a problem with being called “Grandma” and “Grandpa”, coming up with such creative names as “GranMo”, “Z” and “Sweetums”. (I drew the line at Grandude and G-dawg.) Boomers Name Themselves.
Now we have a problem with being called “Senior Citizen” “Elderly” and “Golden Ager”. Forget ‘Seniors’ Aging Boomers Search For A Better Term. While I was not completely on board with the quest for a name other than ‘Grandma’, I do have to admit it gave me pause to identify with the image I had in my head of ‘grandma’. It took me a few ticks to get used to it, and I now think, this is what ‘grandma’ looks like today!
Since I am a certain age, I can see what the older members of my generation have already faced: why would anyone want to define themselves as “old’? The word has such negative connotations. Why else would there be songs and literature and philosophies all focusing on being YOUNG at heart?
I realize: What is In a Name? is a constantly recurring theme of mine:– but my answer is always – A LOT! Names represent our identity, and in this case, “senior” represents a label and a category. But the new words replacing ‘golden ager’ don’t quite work for me. “Perennial”? I’d feel like i’d have to grow leaves to belong to that group. ‘Perennial’ as a substitute for old person ‘leaves’ something to be desired! “Vintage”? I’d feel like an old dress, still showing some appeal but hopelessly out of date. Or maybe ‘vintage’ like an aged wine. (I guess smooth tasting and more valuable aren’t such bad descriptors; but in my mind these adjectives don’t really translate to people.)
What term for “old ager” would be acceptable?
Clare Ansberry, author of the Wall Street Journal article linked above, does a great job interviewing people and exploring the “naming” options. “Elder” probably isn’t so bad, she thinks. But in my mind — that name is already taken. P.J., one of the great guys I tailgate with at Boston College football games shows his respect for the oldest member of our RR Rowdies by calling him–“Most Elder.”
It seems to me a big part of the problem stems from our culture’s infatuation with the young and the beautiful. As a culture we do not see the beauty in an older face with ‘laugh lines’ and a knowing smile. No, we only want the airbrushed, edited version of young faces. I am working on prizing the beauty found in wisdom, sagacity and grace gleaned from experience — if only out of self interest!
I don’t mind the terms “seasoned” or “mature”. But those words start the slow mental slide into “wizened” and “old geezer.” “Older adult” just seems factual, and not emotionally charged. This term seems to be gaining in popularity. But the ultimate question is when do you start applying that label? If it is used as a comparison between two coworkers, then okay! One is an older adult.
But as a category? I’m not sure when I will want to be pigeon holed there.
© Jane F. Collen August 31, 2018 I’m not getting Older I’m getting Wiser IndexCardCure.com