Society certainly has many words to describe our aging folks, including the new old age, silver foxes, graying, aging, older, old, sage, senior, elder, elderly, senior citizen, baby boomer, boomers, coming of age, old-old v. young-old, decades of aging, wellderly (blend of “well” and “elderly”), and the third age. Coming across all the terms makes me wonder how our aging community feels about these words and what growing older means to them.
If you think about it, “seniors” are viewed by society as a homogeneous population, even though, as a group, seniors span over 50 years. Lumping generations together is more reflective of society’s ageism, rather than creating a useful category to address real issues and needs. Within that 50-year span, older adults are actually in many different stages of life and development. The term “decades of aging” refers to the diversity of needs that are typically found from decade to decade by seniors. In other words, seniors 50-59 will have different (along with some similar) needs than do seniors in the 60-69, 70-79, 80-89, and later decades of aging.
From a historical perspective, let’s not forget that in each decade there have been seismic changes. These have profoundly influenced society, especially with regard to civil and human rights issues, such as the end of segregation, the liberation of women, the HIV epidemic, and the ever-changing world of “LGBT rights,” as we know it today.
To read the full article by Terri Clark go to: http://10thousandcouples.com/issue/october-2013/article/aging-whats-in-a-name