Well, it seems that almost everyone dislikes “senior citizen,” except, as respondent Michael notes, when it’s followed by the word ‘discount.”
The question “what do you want to be called” triggered an interesting array of responses, from the concise – “Generation G for GoldenAger” suggests Shirley, to this creative response from Sara C: “Teenior.”
“I am 66, I feel as though I am in the teenage years of my senior citizen status. So I am a Teenior.”
“Elder” was the standout moniker, cited by nine people for its suggestions of respect and wisdom. Consuelo D. liked its ‘wisdomly sound.’ Two people actually said they stand up straighter when referred to as an “elder.”
“I like the word “elder.” It implies respect *because* the person is older, and a recognition that having many years of experience might be useful and valuable.”
A few people liked the term “sage,” while admitting, like Maggie, that it sounds a bit ‘too smug.”
An elder controversy
Interestingly enough, the term ‘elder’ was rejected by several commenters, because it implies wisdom – wisdom that not all older people possess. “Elder connotes wise one — and we’re not all wise” notes Blair, who prefers “Olders.” David B., who likes “senior,’ says “Elder, unfortunately, implies wisdom and respect that not every senior deserves.”
Several people noted the discomfort society has with getting older, as reflected in the language, often quite poignantly. Virginia writes “I don’t care what you call me, just call me! More than being offended by being lumped into a category where I may or may not feel that I fit, I am much more upset when I suddenly become invisible to the rest of the world.”
Elise K. makes this subtle point: “Whatever we call ourselves, I have issues with the number at which society deems us the older generation. 60 is very different from many of us living into our 90’s yet we are all lumped into this very diverse group spanning some 30+ years covering more than a generation.”
Toss these in the Dumpster
Everyone agrees the term ‘elderly” should be retired…and the women in the group noted that terms like ‘young lady” seem particularly stupid. (“Young lady?” Oy!!!’ says Maggie.)
“Older adult says it all. It sure beats being addressed as “young lady” (which I surely am not when I go into a local delicatessen).
Ellen P. R.
Personally I’d like the term “young at heart” nuked from outer space.
We’ll keep this open for a while so you can add your ideas, second thoughts, or even third thoughts. Keep sending your thoughts in the comments and we’ll revisit this topic again!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.