Reverse Mortgage Lender: We Need to Retire the Word ‘Senior’

When referring to members of the older population, it’s common to use the word “senior” as a descriptor. However, one reverse mortgage lender says that according to their own sentiment analysis, it may be time to move away from using that word.

According to Canada’s leading reverse mortgage provider HomeEquity Bank, new research among that nation’s 55-and-up cohort shows that the term “senior” is not universally embraced. While over half (52%) of respondents said it had a positive connotation, nearly half said it did not carry a positive association.

Even still, only 16% of respondents said that the word “senior” was a word that best describes them. Women are also 43% more likely to reject the “senior” label when compared to their male counterparts.

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Instead of “senior” as a descriptor, the alternatives that seemed to have the most traction among survey respondents were “sage,” “savvy” and “skilled” according to respondents.

“Wanting to live an exciting, fulfilling life doesn’t stop when you hit a certain age. Canadians 55+ are some of the most vibrant, creative and dynamic members of our communities,” said Yvonne Ziomecki, executive vice president at HomeEquity Bank. “Today, we’re meant to celebrate Canadians known as seniors, so let’s use the day as an opportunity to understand how they’d prefer to be addressed so we can take action.”

The results of the survey were released to the public on October 1, which coincides with National Seniors Day in Canada.

Based on research conducted in 2019 around age bias in the media, HomeEquity Bank elected to stop using the word “senior” in its marketing to the reverse mortgage demographic cohort.

“Our business is working with Canadians 55+ who want the freedom to enjoy retirement on their terms, so this survey further reinforces what we have known for a long time,” said Ziomecki. “The word senior doesn’t resonate with everyone in the age group, and it’s time for individuals and brands to challenge the term that paints this diverse group of Canadians the same. With disruptive, reimagined language around aging we can embrace a more inclusive and effective way of communicating.”

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