What We Mean When We Say “Older Adults”
You’ve probably noticed that at Sage Collective, we use the term older adults to describe our audience. But if you’ve ever wondered why exactly we use the term older adults, today we’ll take a closer look at the language and what it means to us.
Contentious debate surrounds the usage of alternative phrases like seniors, senior citizens, elders and elderly. For example, what do you think when you hear the word elderly? For most, it conjures images of someone frail and dependent. While one older adult could have health that renders them bedridden, another older adult could just as easily be ready to run a marathon. Weighted terms like elderly render such distinctions meaningless.
Overall, the term elderly is outdated and ageist. The word has created a stereotype around aging that negatively influences the way older adults are perceived and therefore treated in our society. Consider too, the implications of words like seniors and senior citizens — we don’t call the younger generation juniors or junior citizens, right?
Older adults aptly captures that this is indeed a population that is older — but without the hard underscore of the word old. Categorically, the phrase also leaves room for the many nuances of older adults’ varied experiences. There is no implication or preconceived notions of health, disposition, etc., attached; it’s simply a way of classifying an age group overall.
We also use the term older adults to celebrate the next chapter in aging adults’ lives. We believe that like any stage in life, older adulthood brings with it exciting and unique opportunities to learn, grow and thrive. The phrase brings with it a liberty and freedom for older adults to divine their own fate and lifestyle — and to embrace a life of vibrant living (if they should so choose).