Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TIME FOR NEW LABELS FOR THE 60+

When I started this blog in May 2008, I had several names in mind for the blog. Unfortunately all of them were already taken. I must have tried at least 20 names in total, with the same result each time - 'not available'. In frustration I gave it one final go with 'Seniorsaloud'. The name had popped into my mind at that last minute. To my surprise, it was accepted.

Both my daughters didn't like the name at all. They probably felt that with a name like Seniorsaloud, the blog would interest only old people. Of course, I went on the defensive. What did they mean by 'old'? I was about to turn 60 at the time, and didn't feel at all a day over 40. Neither was I frail, and definitely nowhere close to being senile.

Let me ask my readers, does the word 'senior' have a negative connotation? What sort of image comes to mind at the mention of 'senior citizen'? I have good friends who would cringe with horror at being referred to as one, even though they are 60+ and retired. To them, that's as good as sounding the death knell.

The problem with labels is they are generic. 'Old' people are painted with the same brush, and in the same grey colour. But there are so many different shades and hues of grey. If the 50+ and 60+ are not quite ready to be called old, then how would you address them? The 'young old'? That doesn't work either. And are the 70+ the 'old old'? What other terms of reference do we have? The pre-war and post war generations? Equally cumbersome and inadequate. (Photo: My cousins - no way would anyone in their right mind call them 'elderly'! Henry is about the coolest dad I know, and Siew Kin is one fabulously gorgeous mom, inside out. Both are in their early 60s.)

Quite often the media is guilty of mislabeling. "Elderly man victim of snatch thief", says one headline. You read the news report and find that the victim was aged 63. I am turning 63 soon. I can deal with being called a senior citizen as that is what I am. But 'elderly'? Not by a mile. But young reporters are incapable of making that age distinction. To someone in their 20s, 63 is practically ancient.

So until we come up with age appropriate labels, I suppose baby boomers like us will have to forgive the young for addressing us as 'old' and 'elderly'.

Postscript: I'm glad I stuck with the name "Seniorsaloud" for this blog. It has garnered a readership that is steadily growing. It has caught the attention of certain policy-makers on ageing issues in Singapore and Malaysia. It has been mentioned in the local media on several occasions. Some of the articles have been published in reputable magazines. Just last month, I received an email from a program producer at CNN asking for my views on a seniors-related topic. That was a real morale booster.

The flip side of my Seniorsaloud card which I call my passion card.
All those hours of writing and researching are finally paying off in terms of recognition. Now if only some big corporation would step in and sponsor a Seniorsaloud event. That would be taking Seniorsaloud to the next level where it can harness the expertise and experience of retirees for projects that would benefit the community of senior citizens. Seniorsaloud has no shortage of ideas to achieve this objective, and is currently looking for companies to collaborate with.

Contact Seniorsaloud at seniorsaloud@gmail.com if you think we can help meet your company's CSR goals.

4 comments:

Greenhills said...

Hi I came upon your blog site by chance surfing on Zorro Unmasked page.

I recognised the couple Henry and his wife on your page!

So the degree to connectivity is very short!

Guess I just got reminded of my age- although I was still floating around the 21-40 boundary. I don't feel that old...

I booked marked your page and the juke box...amazing.

el-f said...

You are not by any chance a distant cousin, three times removed on my maternal great grandmother's side? :-) Thanks for the kind comment.

Aira said...

Well, that's quite true. Although, calling the people with an age of 60+ would sound offensive,how would they want the youngsters to call them? How would we be able to distinguish the way we call the seniors?
For me, it still depends to them on how they would perceive and eventually react whenever they are being called as elderly or etc, as ling as their are no other intention and no bad meanings every time we call them by that way.
Anyways, all of us will have to experience getting old, sooner or later. No one can escape the aging process and we all have to be old eventually...Just a matter of acceptance.

Winston said...

Ah, Lily,
Being called senior is definitely not a derogatory term at all!
What's important, really important is that it's not the chronological age that counts but the physical well-being!
There are lots of young stallion in their early twenties who have all sorts of health problems but the elderly, if they really keep a lookout for their health, will easily out smart them.
And be miles ahead in the health region.
I think that it's the food that they take, especially fast food like McDonals and KFCs.
These are quite addictive and if one don't have iron discipline, one could very well become a glutton and ended up weighing a few hundred pounds!
Also, I believe that the seniors are way ahead of the juniors in the sexual field as well.
We seniors don't need Viagra, tongkat ali or ginseng like the youngsters do and yet can perform far better than they!
As the saying goes, a person may be old but if the heart isn't old, then things will be gallopingly fine!!
Bye,