According to the Boston Globe last week, baby boomers are horrified that new senior centers in the towns of Franklin and Northborough might be named “senior” centers. In fact, the town of Medfield is calling its new facility “Adult Community Center” which sounds like it might be engaging in some x-rated activities.
“Bob Pitman , chairman of the National Institute of Senior Centers, said baby boomers surveyed by his organization overwhelmingly rejected the word ‘senior,’ feeling it has a negative connotation. While only 7 percent of people age 75 and older had problem with the word, 90 percent of respondents in their 50s didn't like it.”
I don’t like “senior” any more than boomers do because with long-term overuse it has a dusty, boring feel to it and when appended to anything else – community center, discount, etc. – produces yawns. And I strenuously object to how frequently the media use “boomer” to refer to all old people as though those of us born before 1946 don’t count.
We’ve had this discussion here at TGB and even took a vote on what word or words we like best for those of us who are getting old. Although some readers dislike it (M Sinclair, are you listening?), “elder” is my chosen word for us. Long neglected except in reference to tribal old people, it is ripe for resurrection. It connotes age, is respectful and works for boomers as well as the rest of us old folks.
But Mr. Pitman prefers the word “boomer”:
"We boomers like the term 'boomers,'" said Pitman, who is 57. "Even though we're in our 50s and 60s, it has a very useful feel."
Which leaves one to wonder if Mr. Pitman would allow anyone born before 1946 to join. Wouldn’t it be an excellent idea if instead of senior center or boomer center, such facilities were named “elder centers” to include everyone.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Judy Carrino gives us a taste of her Summer Memories just in time for the change of seasons next week.]