We live in an era where growing old is a privilege. In fact, young people can only wish to grow as old as the oldest person they know.
That said, do you know any older person in your circles? Do you work with the elderly? How old is old anyway?
To effectively answer this question, I guess the question is not “what is another name for old people? We should be seeking to know what older people want to be called.
Dive in and let’s learn the proper way to label the age group of between 65 and 100+.
How Old Is Old?
Most people retire once they hit 65. This is the age considered the beginning of old age. A decent number of 65-year-olds are still healthy, productive, and physically active. Even so, they are still considered “older” people.
Real old age sets in at about age 75. This is when a good number of people experience some level of both vision and hearing loss.
You are without a doubt old if you are 85 years and above. At this point, it is common to walk slower, use a hearing aid, and perhaps even use a cane. It’s common for people to have physical limitations at this age, although this does not necessarily strip them of their independence.
According to the World Health Organization, old age begins at 60. The World Economic Forum (WEF), on the other hand, measures old age according to “prospective age.” This simply refers to your current age in comparison to your life expectancy.
Older Adult, Older Person, Senior, Elderly or Elder
Senior citizen, retiree, elder, older adult, older person, golden ager— what do older people want to be called?
Unfortunately, whatever term you use will not be good enough for some people who are older than 60. Someone is likely to get offended even if you label them a golden ager.
Let’s learn about some of the terms and euphemisms for older citizens.
This is a term used worldwide to refer to people above the age of 65
Polite name for retirees mainly used in America
- Senior Citizen
Americans and the British use this term to refer to anyone above 65
- Older Adult
Anyone using this label to refer to retirees is possibly into social sciences
- Elderly and Elder
Most people feel that the word elderly is a straight slap in the face. They also feel that “elder” is okay because it does not subject one to age discrimination. It also sounds like a term of respect.
We can all agree that no one, not even the oldest person in the world, wants to be called old. While elder may sound pretentious, it is less likely to leave you brushing shoulders with that older lady leaving across the street.
How Good Is “Senior”?
In terms of political correctness, “older adult” and “older person” are the best titles to use. However, “senior” or “senior citizen” is a little dignified, more so because of commonly used terms like “senior discounts.”
All the same, a lot of older adults don’t like being called seniors. While this term is not bad for some, how good it is may differ from one person to another.
How About “Oldie”?
It’s the modern era, and people are bound to use slang words like “oldie” and “oldy.” You can trust Gen Xers even to call you an “Oldie Goldie.”
Whether you find this term impolite or not is not much of a concern. According to young people below the age of 30, this title simply tells it like it is. It, however, brings humor into the context, making the word more polite and less offensive.
Why Is “Old” Offensive?
Let’s face it; nobody wants to admit to being “old.” You don’t even want anyone to call your old shirt “old.” For this simple reason, you best not refer to anyone as “old”—not even a 90-year-old.
Moreover, you may want to avoid using colorful slang like a fogey, geezer, and oldster. These terms are out of favor in the current era and are considered jokey names.
So, why do people fear the label “old”?
Forgive my brutal honesty, but “old” sounds like a few steps closer to loss of vision, dependency on hearing aid, and ailing from deadly diseases like cancer. In fact, that term “old” sounds like a few breaths to death. This is why people have no problem saying “teens” but will shy away from using terms as polite as “senior citizens.”
What Do Old Folks Want To Be Called?
Deep down, a lot of seniors are proud of their age. However, they still don’t want to be called “old.
Embracing this fact is just as important as it is for the older generation to embrace their age.
Some of the polite terms to use include:-
- Older adults
- Older people
Here’s the deal, these terms will still sound like an insult in some people’s ears. On the other hand, some will see them as a sign of respect.
From where I stand, it’s better to call a spade a spade. Whether you use senior, elder, oldster, or older adult, someone may find these terms patronizing and annoying.
Coming up with the correct term to use is hard. The best you can do is sound as polite as possible.
If you are an older person, remember that you’re merely as old as you feel. After all, age is nothing but a number.
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