Geezer. Old-timer. Golden Years. Those terms topped the list of the most despised words used to describe the elderly and aging and should be avoided in reverse mortgage marketing, according to a poll by National Public Radio (NPR).
More than 2,700 people responded to the poll, NPR reports. The term that came out on top as most favorable is older adult, though less than half of responders said they liked it at 43%.
“Almost a third of the respondents liked elder,” says NPR reporter Ina Jaffe in a broadcast about the poll’s findings. “We received a lot of comments online from people who felt that the term was the most respectful. And, about a third thought senior was fine, though if you put the word citizen after it, the favorable rating dropped to less than 12%.”
Terms that are often used in a positive context, such as positive aging and successful again, received a thumbs down from the majority of poll respondents as well.
“There’s not much of a vocabulary that reflects the [way] many older adults live now. I mean, who thinks of Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger as enjoying their golden years?” Jaffe says, noting that Americans are living longer and staying healthier longer.
In fact, another NPR poll found that nearly three quarters of baby boomers plan to continue working during their so-called retirement years, indicating that the word retirement itself may no longer be applicable to the majority of older Americans.
“The point is we’re getting rid of a lot of these traditional terms for aging, but we haven’t come up with anything to replace them that reflects what life is like now,” Jaffe says.
Listen to the broadcast here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell