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What Do You Call Yourself When You’re Older?

We have some terms for older adults: elders, senior citizens, the aged, old people. For a lot of us, these may not fit how we’d like. In fact, they can sound rude or patronizing.

You may have been called:

  • Senior
  • A Senior citizen
  • Elderly
  • Old
  • An old person
  • Aging
  • Aged
  • An Older Adult
  • Advanced in Years
  • Getting On in Age
  • A Golden Ager

The discussion around the right way to refer to older adults has been going on for years. In an interview with NPR’s Ina Jaffe, she says research has found that “seniors” are tolerable to most, and “super adult” has come into use.

Meanwhile, Ashton Applewhite, the author of This Chair Rocks: a Manifesto Against Ageism has suggested that the best term is “Olders”. Elders seems too deferential, as though older age equals wisdom (which she feels sure it does not), and “old” has too much baggage, not enough perspective.

Our apparent inability to find a term that everyone is comfortable with maybe because people who get called “seniors”, “old people” and the like actually range from 50–100 years or more. The group is so wide and varied in age, maybe it’s time to break up the groups a little smaller?

Even if we do create or adopt a term for “super adults” under 80 and a separate term for “elders” over 80, we still lack terms that people like. Words that fit with respect but not reverence. I’ve heard the use of “the Young-Old” and “the Older-Old” which fills that void, but hasn’t gained popular use and isn’t well defined.

Some suggestions have included Wellderly, Mature Adults, Oldies, Oldsters, and even Wrinklies.

Do you have a term that you’d like to use for “Golden Agers”?

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