I read in the newspaper the other day that a certain person in Brooklyn was the victim of a home invasion; the person was 72 years old and he was described as an “elderly man”. It seemed a bit shocking to me that someone is considered elderly at age 72. I mean 80 or 90, yes, but 72…elderly?
The upper age to be considered a member of the baby boomer generation is, at this time, 69 years ( 2015-1946). I suppose then that the appellation,” elderly man” or “elderly person” in reference to someone who is 72 and therefore not a member of the baby boomer generation could be gotten away with; but, I can guarantee that “elderly” will never be accepted and will be considered an insult and definitely not P.C. if it is applied to any person in America who is a member of the aforesaid hip, slick and cool baby boomer group (of which I am a card carrying member). After all did not the baby boomers single handedly invent the term” America’s youth”?
I was reading in William Manchester’s excellent book “The Glory and the Dream“, that before World War II the term “teenager” was not known or used. One was either a ”youngster” or an “adult”. “Teenager” came into existence in the 1950’s to describe people formerly known as “youngsters” between 13 and 19 years old who became rebellious and full of angst or some such troublesome condition that went along with being a “teenager”. The people who carry the label “baby boomer” have the distinction of not only being the largest age group in America but also some of the first people to be known as “teenagers”.
Is it any surprise then that the age group known as baby boomers and the first “teenagers” with all that that label implies, just will never, ever accept the term “elderly” as applied to them?
The baby boomer generation generally is described as ending with those people born in 1964. When then, will the country be fairly well rid of this, its largest population group? Let’s say it will be when the youngest members reach age 95 or in other words (do the math with me) 2055. Between now and then the term elderly will gradually fade away until there will be no “elderly people”. The people who were the first teenagers will slowly but surely watch elderly people die off to be replaced by the other term that we baby boomers invented…”Senior Citizens”.
And how refreshing it will be to be rid of “elderly” people. This means that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards can keep rocking and rolling till the day they die. People can keep jogging, running marathons, getting married and divorced over and over! “Elderly people” rock in rocking chairs, “senior citizens” rock the night away! What a relief to know what we baby boomers have known in our heart of hearts since the day we turned 13 and entered the hallowed age of “teenagedom”…we will never be elderly and we will never have to totally grow up.
Dr. Carolyn Koos