Home » Karen’s Korner: Terms for older adults

Karen’s Korner: Terms for older adults

by Minden Press-Herald

Karen’s Korner,

In an article I read the other day, the term seniors or senior adults is subject to change in the not- so- distant future. Seniors have been referred to as the “greatest generation,” “golden agers,” “ancestors,” “elders,” and “baby boomers.” As a result of much research by a group referred to as “The Senior List Research Team,” the following information was collected:

“From politics to the pandemic, older Americans are at the forefront of some of our most pressing issues, labeled by the media in ways that range from traditional (“senior citizens”) to respectful (“mature adults”) to snide (“OK, Boomer!”). We felt it was important to determine how the group itself would like to be described, and we surveyed 600+ people aged 55+ to find out. We learned that older adults primarily want to be recognized as integral parts of society rather than as burdening outsiders, and also that individual preferences vary.

Overall, our conclusions are nuanced, but several points are apparent:

  • “Senior” terms are on their way out. Traditional labels like “senior” or “senior citizen” were only preferred by a small percentage of older adults – 17% and 10%, respectively. Younger respondents were less tolerant of both terms, foreshadowing a continued decline in popularity.
  • Inclusive terms are most appreciated. Terms that slightly altered words like “adult” were most embraced by the group. 79% were positive about being called “older adults” or “mature adults”. On the flip side, terms that might make older adults feel alienated, like “the elderly” or “golden agers”, proved least popular.
  • Emphasis on lifestyle was preferred over longevity. The only term that focused on status rather than age (“retiree”) performed surprisingly well. Though ½ of respondents were under 65, only 17% disliked the term “retiree”, suggesting that older Americans may prefer stage-of-life labels over references to lifespan.”                           

No matter the name that is used, these precious people are to be appreciated, thanked, and loved not only because of longevity, but because of the vital information and experiences they have, to share with all of us. Oh, to be able to sit at the feet of my grandparents again and hear all those wonderful stories and those pearls of wisdom, wit, and knowledge we need to hear in order to make our lives better.

Come and join our “wonderful seniors,” at the Webster Parish Council on Aging, 1482 Sheppard Street, here in Minden! For further information you may contact us at 318-371-3056.

Related Posts