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What names are they calling us now?

– Posted in: Trends

A Forbes Magazine contributor, Howard Gleckman, has started a New Year’s debate on what to call old people. He says that we’ve tried senior citizens, seniors, the elderly, elders, retirees, and even “gerontos.”  He mostly uses the term “older adults” that appears to be catching on.  But he does not find that term entirely satisfying.  “Older than who?” he asks.

Gleckman then runs through three decades of euphemisms from people like British historian Peter Laslett, who created the phrase “Third Age”, marketer Ken Dychtwald, who spun it into “the Age Wave,” and actress Jane Fonda, who called it “Life’s Third Act” in her TED talk at age 80.


Gleckman goes on to quote Laura Carstenson, the founding director of Stanford’s Centre on Longevity.  Dr. Carstenson wrote about ageing in a year-end edition of the Washington Post, and used the word “perennials” for people over 65.  “They are just like the plants that blossom ‘again and again’ if given proper care and support,” she says.

As one of the US experts on how ageing changes the way people respond to their environment, her research shows that people are generally more positive about life as they age.

Laura Carstenson credits a consumer marketing consultant named Maureen Connors for coming up with “perennial” as a euphemism for an old person. Connors, she says, uses the word to refer to older consumers in her work with the fashion industry. Carstenson likes it because it helps people “shift away from fear of growing old and toward embracing living long.”


Personally, I love the word « seenagers » coined by Professors Etisiobo and Aderounmu Adebimpe, alumni of the Luth Medical School in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s based on functionality and talks to anyone 55+ on the right side of the dependency threshold.

The word is gaining currency since the first « Seenagers » Conference on the Challenges of Ageing in Africa was organized in Nigeria in October 2017 by David Olduare Mark, PhD, CEO of the Family Ark Mission, and country liaison for the Pass It On Network.

What are your thoughts about the right word for us? How would you prefer to be called during your numerous functional years on this side of dependency? What new language is emerging for both this and the next stage?

Please share your views.  This is about Us! “We are the ones” we are talking about!

9 comments… add one
9 comments… add one
  • Paulette Rose January 15, 2018, 1:09 am

    I personally prefer perennials. Thank you for asking.

  • Suzanne Grenager January 16, 2018, 1:25 am

    “Perennials“ is adorable. It sounds like a flower, and one I’d want to be. In fact, at 75, a perennial I already am!

  • Rosemary January 16, 2018, 7:59 am

    I prefer Seenagers as it’s witty and young.

  • Judy Davidson January 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Elders works for me. It sounds dignified, respectful. It connotes experience; it implies mentoring of younger generations. I don’t care for cutesy names, like “seenagers,” or the ambiguous “perennials.” We are the older generation— be old and proud of it! No need to gloss over the word.

  • Suzanne Grenager January 19, 2018, 12:34 am

    On second thought, I like “elders“ too, Judy. It tells it like it is! Thanks for speaking up.

  • Oludare January 19, 2018, 9:09 am

    The word Seenager is gaining currency in Nigeria and I’m sure it is going to strike a chord with the current younger, trendy generation. The earlier we key into their vibe of reasoning, the better. Teenagers are exploring and experimenting with a new world and so are Seenagers. It’s the attitude that counts. I’m still rocking!!!

  • Florence Mavis Odoom January 19, 2018, 11:45 am

    I agree with Oludare and the use of the word ” seenagers”. Though, I’m still young and vibrant, the earlier the word “Seenager” spreads to Ghana, the better. Wouldn’t want to be referred to as “old lady” or “elder Mavis” in this 21st century. I want to stay trendy and catchy as I grow old. The word Seenagers meets my heartbeat.

  • Ellenor Shepherd January 19, 2018, 4:24 pm

    Definitely not Seenagers. Actually, I’m drawn to Perrenials; they keep coming back year after year and give us hope!

  • Silvia Ertzer January 22, 2018, 3:07 pm
      I really like the notion of perennials as it picks up a vision of sustainable and creative aging. In French we call it “vieillissement durable”. My friends and me – age 70 up to 90 and beyond – all of us volunteering as members of the Paris-based organization OLD’UP – think that todays’s old people should and can reinvent old age and cherish this continual growing into new experiences. So, what’s wrong with ‘old’?

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