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On Senior Citizen’s Day, We Wondered…What do Senior Citizens Actually Prefer to Be Called?

Back in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the promulgation of 5847, also known as the “National Day of the Third Age,” which designated August 21st as a day to show “gratitude and sincere greetings to our senior citizens” and to raise awareness of the condition of older people and to support them throughout the aging process. By 1990, August 21st had been dubbed World Senior Citizen’s Day by the General Assembly of the United Nations and it has been celebrated on this day ever since.

You may never have heard of older adults being members of the “third age,” or if you have, you might think of it as a time period referenced in the J.R.R. Tolkien books The Lords of the Rings. Here at Immersion Active, we generally refer to people over 65 as “mature consumers” but we’ve also heard them called, “older adults,” “elders,” “seniors,” and, of course, “senior citizens.” This got us thinking about what mature people might like to call themselves.

Back in 2016, NPR did a survey that asked people over the age of 65 what they would like to be called, and they discovered that many older people find the term “senior citizen” patronizing and not really indicative of the way the actually feel about themselves. The survey found that “older adult” was preferred by more people but even that term isn’t universally loved or accepted. Recently the term “Boomer” has emerged as a front runner for those of a certain age, but since this term is more associated with a particular generation, it isn’t clear if its popularity will remain as the next generation, Generation X, enters their “senior” years.

As the leading expert in connecting brands with people over the age of 50, Immersion Active takes the lexicon of language attached to this demographic seriously. We will continue to monitor the changing landscape and adjust our language appropriately. So today, instead of wishing everyone a Happy World Senior Citizen’s Day, we’ll wish you all a Happy World Older Adult Day and confirm our commitment to connecting our clients to the vibrant and dynamic group of people who happen to be over the age of 65.

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