We’re still going through an identity crisis, negotiating different ways society refers to people over 60. Our quick poll of more than 300 respondents didn’t have an overwhelming preference – 39 percent were OK with ‘Senior” (although on some mailing lists that could get you emails about college loans and yearbook pix!); some 24 percent liked the specificity of “Older Person.” About 22 percent of respondents preferred the classic “Senior Citizen.” Some 13 percent of repondents like the elegance of “Elder” and about 2 percent liked the sporty flair of “Oldster.”
That’s not all, though. The topic sparked a lively debate in the comments and on our Facebook page. Many people thought the point would be moot if they were called by their names and a few wondered why labels were needed at all. Some out of the box ideas were “vintage” (I like that! “Vintage citizens”) or ‘Pops.’ One very practical reader said ‘You can call me ‘senior’ if it gets me discount!” …and nobody, apparently, wants to be called ‘elderly.”
Here’s an interesting piece by an essayist too young to worry about it (read it here) about what to call an older person.
We’ll leave the survey up for a while so you can take our poll and let us know your thoughts and solutions in the comments…or on our Facebook page.
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at email@example.com.