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Senior citizens? Nah. Over 50s suggest new labels

What's a nickname suitable for the over-50 set

What's a nickname suitable for the over-50 set that won't be met with groans or offense? (Certainly, the word vintage isn't the best suggestion.) Credit: iStock

Infant, toddler, child, teenager, young adult, middle-age -- these are all chronological groupings most Act 2 readers have passed through, without expressing a problem with the label or age designation.

But what do you call the over-50 crowd?

Boomers, especially those who have taken pains to stay fit, eat right and look younger than their parents did at the same age, balk at the term "senior citizen." Even some seniors don't like the tag. And, please, wipe "elderly" or "oldster" from your vocabulary.

No one yet has come up with a moniker that's been embraced by the move-over generation, so we asked readers for their ideas. We can't say whether any of them will stick.

-- Gwen Young, Act 2 Editor

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During my more than 30 years of teaching at the Waverly Park Elementary School in Lynbrook, we were referred to as "veteran teachers" who were role models or sages to the newbies.

In our building, we said the longest-tenured teachers were the "young" teachers, the mid-30 to 40-year-olds were the "younger" teachers, and the 22- to 29-year-olds were the "youngest" members. So it's young, younger and youngest, in that order.

Mike Greenfield, Oceanside

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My husband likes to refer to us as "young seniors," as opposed to "ancients."

Carol Morisco, Melville

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My preference -- which I'd like to see picked up and promoted all over the place -- is "wisdom people."

Nancy Dwyer, Valley Stream

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Earlier this month I received my Medicare card; I turned 65 in August. Let's try the label "Mature Adult" for those of us I call "over the hill."

I think that would be a gentle way of labeling us -- we who have seen the best of our days.

We need to admit that, no matter how healthy we are, our minds and bodies "ain't what they used to be."

Let's act like mature adults and accept the wonderful reality that we are aging and think of all those we loved who never made it to here. End of story.

Rosetta Morris, Albertson

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I truly recall the very first time I heard myself being referred to as a "senior citizen." It was in the lobby of a movie theater, standing next to my husband while he was buying tickets.

I heard him ask for two tickets for two seniors. I was now officially a "senior citizen," although I had never been called a "junior citizen."

I did not even have a gray hair on my head. I cannot recall the movie we saw that night and perhaps that is the exact thing that happens on your introduction to "Seniorhood." I truly lost my youthhood that night in the theater lobby. I even passed up the popcorn for the first time in my life of moviegoing. I felt it was more for kids.

I believe that was my beginning of becoming a senior citizen and today at the ripe old age (I also resent that saying) of 90, being called a senior citizen is a blow to the ego.

From that night on, I recall saying stuff like, "Is this dress too young for me?" I passed up eating after 9 p.m., and I kept falling asleep watching "I Love Lucy."

It was the dreaded senior citizen label we are unwillingly bestowed with. Today, with Facebook and Twitter and car keys that help you find your car, and Botox and bikinis and legalizing pot, surely they can come up with something better than senior citizen.

Yes, it's true that, at 90, I should have my Costco card recalled. One can of tuna at a time is more than enough. I have even told my doctor that if my physical turns out very bad, to just say these words and not ruin my weekend: "The results are in, and I suggest you do not shop at Costco anymore." That's real diplomacy.

My take is that cards should be given to "Seniors" with our name and address -- color coded for our age group:

Age 60 to 70 -- Silver card

Age 70 to 80 -- Gold card

Age 80 to 90 -- Diamond card

Age 90-plus -- a card that reads "Three Guesses." When you tell them your real age, they will make your day when they say, "You look amazing -- God bless you."

As for me, I would tell every senior that I meet, "You do not look older than a 'Silver Card.' "

Ruth Greenstein, Roslyn Heights

Submissions to My Turn must be the writer's original work. Email act2@newsday.com, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include your name, address and phone numbers. Stories will be edited, become property of Newsday and may be republished in any format.

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