What do we call ourselves in 2021?

So much has changed and is changing in today’s world, including the way older people see themselves. And for those of you below age 55, the dilemma is what to call older people as a collective without offending or patronising them. Stock phrases include pensioners, retirees, seniors, senior citizens, old folk or old toppies. Women are unkindly referred to as old ducks and men as old bullets, although these labels could be seen as terms of endearment depending on who utters them. And then there is the more respectful label of elder. At age 67 I don’t particularly like any of them, but when a label is unavoidable, “senior” seems to be the least offensive.

So what do we call ourselves in 2021? Well as youngsters will discover when they get past 65, we don’t feel old, we still have dreams to follow, we love challenges, we have seen the world at its worst and its best and our attitudes are tempered by experiences younger folk have yet to see or imagine. Don’t underestimate us, don’t patronize us and don’t ignore us. I learn so much from younger people and if they take the time, they can learn a lot from me. I even tell cocky youngsters that my age is their aspiration, which gets the smarter ones thinking! Well you can call me Arthur and refer to me as the guy who still has a passion for business, who loves to have a few whiskies with his friends and laugh at silly jokes, who builds and rides fast motorcycles and is a happy family man.

So if you are over 65 or better yet beyond 75, you are an elder with so much to contribute to your family, your community and society, you are unique, one of a kind, or to use the title of a wonderful movie, you are a legend of the fall! Sadly many seniors don’t see it this way and society behaves as if they do not exist. Ageing is part of the normal rhythm of life and we need to embrace it and work around some of the challenges that an ageing body throws at us. And if you reach a stage where you are no longer able to carry out all of the activities of daily living, get some help, but do not diminish yourself or feel that you no longer have value. That is a slippery slope into depression and physical decline.

I hope that 2021 will be a good year for “seniors”. Our recently established organisation called RezCare has opened its doors in the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town and its mission is to assist seniors to age-in-place in the comfort of their own homes. To write a few more chapters of their unique life story.

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