Lake County Council on Aging Blog

What's in a Name?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What’s in a name? For the last 50 years, people of advanced age have generally been referred to as old, elderly, or senior citizens. But the advent of the baby-boom generation’s turning 60 has led to a call for different words to describe this group. Among the suggestions are terms like “aging adult” (but isn’t that everyone?), “people of a certain age” (quite cumbersome), “retired person” (what if you are still working or never worked?), or “vintagers,” (what does that mean?).

Many people feel using any one word to try to describe a group of people whose ages span 45 years and who represent all gender identities, races, religions, educational backgrounds, and interests is far too limiting. They suggest not using age as an identifier at all, pointing out that negative attitudes about growing older is the problem, not the terminology. Perhaps what is needed is a recognition that the period of life after 60 is as full of challenges, changes, rewards, and pleasures as any other.