Thursday, May 22, 2014

Are You Old Enough?

I am sure that many of you read Ronni Bennett's blog, Time Goes By.  Today she wrote about "good and not so good names for old people." This is a topic she has addressed before, and today's post was prompted by an NPR story which was the aftermath of another story.  Oh, how do we refer to a certain demographic, related to date of birth but broader than generations??  Oh, and how do we make name that which we want to name without giving offense???

You will find a survey on both the TGB and NPR.  If you were born around 1948 or anytime before that what do you like to be called?

Here's the list from the NPR site.  This is just a copy; you cannot take the survey here.  You picked what you like and then, from the same list again, what you dislike:

What terms to you prefer?

Older -- How relative is that?  I am older than some, younger than others.  I'm older than I used to be but I'm hoping younger than I will be.

Older American -- Am I being compared to say Chinese or German and is ethnicity a relevant factor in the discussion?

Senior/Senior Citizen --
 Are you giving me a discount?

Our Seniors -- whose now?

Elder* --  old or older with a churchy edge to it.

Elderly -- Now this seems to be a real trigger word, which I don't get.  I guess it is now supposed to have taken on the meaning of infirm or frail.  I missed that memo.  My Roget's Thesaurus says "aging (let's face it, that starts at birth), aged (I think a good, strong cheese or a fine wine), retired (I happen to be retired although not everyone my age is), venerable (and that is not a bad thing usually).  So you can call me elderly by that and I am pretty darn healthy and quite vital and active just the same.

Geriatric -- doesn't that really have to do with medicine and medical problems?

Old Timer/Geezer -- folksy

Golden Years, Silver Fox, Positive Aging -- Madison Avenue

Successful Aging -- as opposed to being dead?

Silver Tsunami --
gag me with a spoon.

*Here's what my Thesaurus has to say about "elder":

modif. --syn. older, senior, ranking, more mature

n. 1. [Old person] -- syn. old man, old woman, old lady (but not old gentleman), senior citizen, veteran,  old timer, senior, retiree, one of the old folks, one of the older generation, sexagenerian...centenarian, ancestor, golden ager*, older adult, Methuselah*, greybeard, oldster*, old fogey, little old lady* (again, not little old man), granny*, gramps*
2. [A superior] -- syn. patriarch, matriarch, chief etc.
So the lesson here:  words pretty much ean what you want them to mean.

You can call me a woman.



  1. I like your conclusion - "You can call me a woman". Me too. You can also call me what I am: a grandmother, a mother to adult children, a life partner, of for those that don't know me, an older, gray haired woman who doesn't really act old.

  2. You can call me a Senior citizen if I get the discount. :-)

  3. Call me a vibrant older woman.

  4. You may call me a woman as well .... and a little less young than others, as my Dr says.

  5. I prefer to be called a senior citizen, but old fut would be okay, too.

  6. What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2)
    "A woman of a certain age" has appeal, too.

  7. Having few illusions of myself or where this process is going to lead, I prefer to be known as the old ________ (fill in your favorite obscenity), for nicety purposes let us leave it at fart or bastard, although I answer to all and actually prefer those with a bit of a risqué overtone.

    My wife who views me through the optimistic cataracts of 39 years of being together calls me her silver fox. This most assuredly is wrong, but what the hell will I gain by persuading her otherwise. My own view would be a hybrid of old bald _____ crow. (Again fill in the blank with your favorite obscene modifier.)

  8. Interesting post. Have to say that most of those terms tend to sound a bit offensive (IMO) unless spoken by grandchildren. Who wants some clerk calling you grandpa or grandma (unless you have a grandchild at your side). Even worse is "young lady" spoken by someone years younger than yourself. However, "Senior Citizen" doesn't bother me... especially when it means a discount. And "Retiree" is OK too. If dealing with someone in person, "Sir" or Ma'am" has no age connotation.

  9. I like your answer best for many of the same reasons. Born in 1949 I almost qualify for all of the descriptions. As long as no one ever has reason to call me "old and decrepit" that I will be happy. Old is OK I just always want to be active. .

  10. Just call me to dinner and NEVER call me Girly. Otherwise, I don't really have a preference. I celebrate my silver hair. It gets discounts, doors are opened for me, heavy packages carried by strangers, and smiles are flashed easily my way. If I am not being called something profane, I'll answer. Gotta love it.

  11. I am a woman, but you can call me a man if that means you will listen to me.

  12. Yeah, I saw her post. And you've nailed it: I like Senior because it gets me my discount. But just by calling me Tom, everyone knows I'm old. Thomas was the 8th most popular boy's name in 1950. By 1980 it had dropped to 25th most popular. Now it ranks down at No. 61.

  13. I happily was given a senior's discount at the drug store the other day! I was thrilled. They didn't even ask if I was a senior.
    I'm 57! Like, whatever... :-Q


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