Category Archives: Ageing labels

The words we use to describe ageing and older people

Let’s all become Chellers

‘Seniors’ have long experienced a problem with the terminology surrounding older people. All of the existing words are either insufficiently descriptive, lacking in inclusivity or imbued with pejorative connotations. Every conversation about seniors soon turns to who we are talking about and what responses are appropriate to various segments of the senior population.

Seniors are defined in many ways according to the context – those over about 50 or so in the workplace, those above 55 for superannuation purposes, 60 for eligibility for a Seniors Card, around 65-70 for pension purposes and so on. References to Third Aged people generally ignore the existence of their Fourth Aged compatriots. Terms such as older people, the aged, mature aged, the elderly, the aged and infirm, even grandparents, all carry a strong connotation of conservative or decrepit old folks in their Fourth Age, dependent on the community, waiting for a bed ion a nursing home, or worse. Even the term ‘ageing’ is misleading because we all start ageing at birth. The great majority of ‘older people’ are vigorous, vital and active, cogent contributors to all facets of modern society, many still working in key positions or filling demanding voluntary roles, growing our economy and supporting our institutions (and our younger people): certainly not deserving of the derogatory implications in most of our ‘ageing’ nomenclature. There are problems with every descriptive term we now use: older people? A 5-year-old is older than a 4-year old. Mature people are rarely ‘ripe’ and many would not like to be referred to as staid. Baby Boomers? What name for those born on 31 December 1945 or 1 January 1965? The Third Age and Fourth Age are not defined and are transitionary at best. read more

Third Age: Don’t panic, it’s just another stage of life

When my internet goes down, stay away from me.

I become a maniac. It creates a special kind of anxiety of which I knew nothing before the days of my beloved laptops. I remember each laptop as people remember their dead pets. And my early ones, not to mention the telephone services that sustained them, were as dependable as a politician’s promise.

I’d never have managed if my computer blokes, Darryl and Rob, had not lived close and were always there for the stuttering, distressed victim of early internet mania. Some friends gave up on the internet because of these early experiences. Others became stronger for it, learning quickly that the only constant is perpetual change. I just got better laptops and worse internet anxiety. That is the difference between young and old internet users. The young take the internet for granted. The old see it as a miracle and fear its loss. read more

Wanted: A Wonderful Word For Us

I am searching for a word. No dementia jokes please. A word: glamorous, rich, evocative, that we can appropriate to give old age a better tint. Just as Gays did, and forever improved the image and the language. We need something to distinguish us, for example, as the last generation that experienced life in the home without computers, while being the generation that helped the invention to reach its present sophisticated state.

The man who invented the mouse, Douglas Engelbart, died only last year at the age of 88. I wonder if, in his later years, any patronising young git asked him if he knew what a mouse was. read more