A Name for the Ages

A Name for the Ages

Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary September 2022 – August 2023!

To mark this milestone, we are sharing highlights from our work over the past 10 years.

In 2016, we held A Name for the Ages campaign to question aging stereotypes and create a conversation about what name older York Countians prefer and why.  Here’s what we learned.

Old as dirt or vintage like a great wine? 4 p.m. dinners and senior moments or redefining senioritis? Respect your elders or ancient and elderly?

When needing to reference a group of people over the age of 50, what label is best to use?  That’s the question Embracing Aging answered in 2016 with our A Name for the Ages campaign.

Attitudes towards aging permeate our everyday life and effect every aspect of a community, from relationships in the workplace to long-range planning for housing and transportation.  This is why we held this campaign.  We wanted to create a conversation around aging stereotype.

Embracing Aging suggested three candidates: Elder, Older Adult, and Senior.

We did “man on the street” videos where residents shared both negative and positive perceptions of each term.  People age 18 and older were invited to watch the videos, think about the term they prefer, vote, and share why.

No worries if one didn’t like any of the proposed candidates; they were invited to vote for “Other” and write in the term of their choice.

Almost 650 people voted. Older Adult quickly took an early lead and remained the top choice through the first half of the campaign. However, as more votes were cast, Senior jumped ahead and remained the preferred term.

If voters chose, they could provide their age. We asked this because we wanted to see if any trends by word choice emerged.  Thirty-eight percent of respondents shared their age. The median age for all voters was 56. The median age by term was: Senior – 60, Older Adult – 55, and Elder – 54.

Why did people vote the way they did?

The most frequently mentioned reason for selecting Senior was it implies the highest level obtained and earned; people look up to seniors for guidance. Voters selecting Older Adult did so because it describes who they are; they thought it was a natural progression from young and middle-aged adult. Respect was the top reason for those who selected Elder, along with implying wisdom and knowledge.

What about the Other category? Seasoned Adult, Mature Adult, and simply Adult were the most frequently mentioned.

A few people pushed-back, they didn’t feel the need for defining a term at all, and simply said “call me by my name.” But overall, the campaign got people talking about stereotypes in aging.