You may not be old or you may be old but don’t think of yourself as such, but it really does not matter. If you are lucky, you will be old someday. There is great news for those of us who are old, whether we like to think of ourselves as such or not.
(In fact some people are already old in their twenties or thirties. Others never see themselves as old. My friend, tennis icon, Allie Ritzenberg, just turned 99. He still drives, plays tennis, cooks his own (gourmet) meals, and lives in a house with breathtaking views of the Potomac River. He says he thought about moving into a retirement community but is “not ready yet.” At his 99th birthday party he was complaining about getting “only” a seven year extension on his drivers license.)
Here is the great news for us “old folks”: We have a new name.
Remember how hard it used to be to come up with a name for us? There are so many names that have been used to describe us. Here are a few: “aged,” “retiree,” “senior” (or “senior citizen”), “elderly,” “oldster,” “septuagenarian” (or “octogenarian,” “nonagenarian” or “centenarian”), “old codger,” “geezer,” “old coot,” “old biddy,” “golden-ager,” “old-timer,” “old fogey,” “old bat,” “geriatric,” “pops,” and last but not least “old fart.”
I don’t know about you, but except for “geezer,” I never felt any of these names aptly applied to me.
As many of you know, my career was spent in the field of what is called “retirement housing” or “senior living,” and which I confess I have lovingly referred to from time to time as “geezer housing.” “Retirement Housing” and “Senior Living” aren’t all that bad as names but never seemed to get it just right. I kept thinking we should have better words for people who are in their (our) 70s and 80s.
Well, now there is one. We are “Perennials.” This appeared in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post a couple of days ago. How clever, I thought. It sounds a lot like “Millennials,” who are getting all the attention nowadays, and yet is so apt for us survivors. We who are in our 70s and 80s or more and who do survive from one year to the next just keep coming back like the daffodils and tulips every spring. We are in fact “perennials.” I do not know if the name will stick or if anyone will remember it a few days from now, but it sure beats “geezer.”