What’s going on?
Having recently given presentations in Chicago, LA, San Antonio and New York, I have been struck by how vocal people have become about words they hate! Several years ago when we were researching ideas for Don’t Retire, REWIRE!, we heard rumblings about how many people disliked the word retirement. They didn’t like the image it evoked; they didn’t like the definition of the word and they couldn’t relate to it. We knew that our concept of rewiring would offer pre- and post-retirees an alternative way to think about and plan for their future. Although we created the term rewirement we realize now that we don’t care what people call their future life stage, we care more about how they live or “do” their future.
Now it seems that people dislike most words that have anything to do with aging! It’s like there is a rebellion going on. People have shot down the words-- Senior, elder, mid-life, older, mature…and the list goes on! When I started hearing people complain, it made me think about the first time someone said, “Thank you, “Ma'am! to me. All I could think was “What? Or the famous Robert De Niro line from Taxi Driver…”you talking to me?” I thought, “I’m still cool! How can you call me Ma'am?” It meant that that younger person, saw me as older, (notice I didn’t say old) and I was shocked.
AARP says that “60 is the new 40.” Studies cite people seeing themselves as 10 -12 years younger than they really are. So is it just boomers wanting to be younger? No. When a 90 year old woman told me that she volunteers and that her job is to take the blood pressure of the “old” people, I thought who is she talking about? She proudly said, “92 and 94 year olds!” This is not a boomer rebellion about certain words, this is broader and in the mind set of many. It was then that I discovered a great article in AGING TODAY, called WORDS TO AGE BY: A GUIDE ON STYLE AND USAGE. The link will take you to the November-December 2007 issue for at least another 3 weeks. Then it will be in "Back Issues" at the bottom of that page. When you get to the page, just scroll down to "Words to Age By." Although written for the media I think it is a good read for all of us!
So just to be safe if you see me on the street just yell out…Hey You! And I’ll answer.