Should We Say ‘Super Adult’ Instead of ‘Senior Citizen’?

Have we finally found a name for older adults that will stick? Vote in our poll

Laura Carstensen of the Stanford Center on Longevity said, “Older people today are like pioneers of a new life stage, trying to find their way.” Ina Jaffe, the award-winning NPR correspondent and 2015 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging, quoted her during a recent radio segment on what to call “old people.” “Since the early 20th century, we’ve added at least 30 years to the average life expectancy, and the language just hasn’t caught up with that,” Jaffe said.

Listen to the full segment here:

“[Ina’s] been covering the [65+] beat for years,” said Scott Simon, a colleague at NPR, “and she still doesn’t know what to call them.”

Indeed, agreeable nomenclature for adults in later life does seem particularly hard to come by. (Even The New York Times has had trouble finding the right descriptor for older people.)

In 2012, Next Avenue grappled with this issue in a story with the headline “Boomer? Midlifer? Can’t We Find a Better Name for Ourselves?” Among the ideas floated were: “retiree,” “golden-ager,” “the venerable” and “jewels.”

More recently, after attending the White House Conference on Aging, Next Avenue blogger Monica H. Schaeffer suggested the term “gener-ager” (but Next Avenue readers on Facebook weren’t convinced).

But maybe this will stick: “There’s a term I found — wouldn’t you know — on Twitter,” Jaffe said. “Recently, someone I follow tweeted that she was buying tickets to a show in London, and instead of senior discount, they used the term ‘super adult.'”

By Josh Walker
Josh Walker is the social media manager at Next Avenue. A longtime social media expert, he's also a former assistant managing editor at Parents magazine, and a former special projects editor at MORE magazine.
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