Our age can be described with a label. What should ours be?
The required age for entering a retirement community, especially one that offers continuing care, is usually 65. Other communities that emphasize lifestyle welcome residents 55 and older. What is the best term to describe an older person like this?
For example, as one matures several descriptive terms are used ranging from: infant, baby, and toddler to school age, adolescent, teenager, college, etc. But as individuals get older behavioral characteristics lead to change. In the twenties, when growth and development is completed, the unique aging process begins – very slowly at first. By forty it becomes more established and then at fifty we begin to use the term middle age.
By age 65, the forty odd years of most people’s working life is winding down and retirement is at hand. There are exceptions and, of course, with increasing life expectancy and financial uncertainty the years of employment could be extended. What to call this group is not decided. There are many choices. One is to designate young old, middle old and old old. Different ages have been selected for these categories, but in general the young groups are from the 60s to the early 70s, the middle group from the 70s to mid-80s, and the old old group is 85 plus.
I don’t know about you, but I am not crazy about the prospect of being called old old because I had a birthday two weeks ago. Guess which one it was. Whatever, I would gladly trade the term for something a little kinder.
How about, old age, elder, older, elderly, aging, aging past youth, aging into middle years, aging into old age. Had enough? All of these have been suggested by younger people writing on the subject.
My choice for what to call people over 65 is senior. The term has been criticized because it implies a state of dependency requiring placement in a designated facility for the aged. A longer life span and the establishment of more modern facilities with multiple offerings calls for a change.
The word senior is defined… “older or more experienced”, or “holding a high authoritative position”. As a senior I hope to justify both.
For me there is no better word than senior to describe a person who has gained experience allowing a special claim to authority over thirty years or more. With advanced age the wide difference in people continues to expand. What kind of senior do we become? That’s for us to decide.
When we get older, we don’t become wiser and gentler; we perfect who we are.
By Savvy Senior
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