Imagine a world without “seniors.”
No more senior citizens, senior discounts, senior living and senior centers, senior advocates. Oh yeah, no more senior moments.
Older adults and older people: You’re welcome. Use of the adjective “older” conveniently qualifies individuals with more birthdays and more experience from younger individuals.
But for age-related intents and purposes, “seniors” must go. The label — and the associated perception. Unfortunately, “senior,” similar to “aging,” too often implies frail, vulnerable, infirmed, dependent … “silver tsunami” and other negative stereotypes.
But it’s just a word, some will say. What’s the fuss? It is convenient, after all, to label or differentiate individuals by race, gender, economic status. The media does it. Researchers do it. Policymakers do it.
The fact is labels do presuppose, even if unintentionally, what makes us different. And what segregates and divides — them from us, or us from them, depending on where you stand. In an ideal world, where tolerance and The Golden Rule prevail, everyone should be us.
WHAT ABOUT “US NOT THEM”?
Here’s some unsolicited public relations counsel for “aging” advocates such as AARP, the American Society on Aging and the myriad other organizations, associations, commissions, agencies, etc. As you advocate for more services and supports and funding for older people, you would be wise to take to heart your own message of inclusivity about aging: that it is about “us not them.”
Consider, as those who oppose your efforts inherently do, that lobbying on behalf of seniors labels them as a “special interest,” which — ironically and hypocritically — places them in competition with other groups who due to age, health or status do not relate to seniors.
Instead, how about everyone agree, regardless of where we stand presently, that it’s in our collective best interest socially and economically for everything possible be done to integrate those among us who’ve lived longer with those who desire to.
This includes making greater effort to unite generations within our communities, workforces, educational institutions and commerce; and as caregivers, mentors, volunteers, friends and family members.
Research shows that how we perceive and identify aging directly influences how well we age. It would be healthy for us to erase the lines and language that separate young and old.
Great Article Stuart!
Yes, if we could all understand the labeling tool for what it is. The ability to dismiss any part of our society is so damaging. It seems so harmless till your rights are taken away as part of a label. We need to fight it where ever it is found. As my hair silvers, let’s start here.
If we start treating senior citizens better, it will pay off for all of us when we reach that age.
A true moment for Seniors–as usual –smooth.
Incredibly well done, Stuart…
I’ll definitely pass this on!
Imagine there’s no ‘Senior’
It’s easy if you try
No stereotype of frailty
Just keeping our strong momentum
Imagine all the people
Living longer than today (ah ah ah)
Imagine there’s no ageism
It isn’t hard to do
No budgets to split or deny for
And no us versus them
Imagine all the people
Living life with all ages
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Nicely done tribute to older adults and John Lennon.
Good ideas regarding policy decisions affecting portions of the population. And integration of all members of our society equally. But…
Ageism is a type of stereotyping that makes broad assumptions about certain individuals. Usually bad ones, like with racism and sexism. And it often leads to unfair, discriminatory behavior as such persons are seen as deteriorating, weak, needy. Related to age and ageism are “old” and “older”. More years behind me.
But “Senior” reflects experience and prompts respect. Like the senior faculty member, the senior administrator, the senior athlete in a hall of fame. Not the old/er shoe ready for discarding. Or the old/er car to be replaced. Or the old/er person to be pitied and undervalued.
So, don’t call me old/er. I, and everybody past 65 whom I know, is proud to be a Senior and part of those who are changing the public impression of our age group.
Bob- take some time going through the FrameWorks Institute’s Reframing Aging for the rationale for moving away from the term Senior and the concept that WE are all getting older (not old). A 40 yr old in Silicon Valley is considered OLD, and incapable of innovation – that perception is spreading to other business realms.( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/even-lycra-yoga-make-50-new-30-tech-making-steven-castle-md/ )
The problem is that Senior does not carry the respect and value as Elder did in the past…but your perspective and ability to understand it is crucial
Amen to all that!