I’d Rather Be An Elder Than Elderly

I wish I had not named my business Legacy Years because I would like to use the term “legacy years” as a replacement for “elderly”. There must be a better term than elderly to describe the years beyond middle-age. It’s as if you step off a cliff from being middle-aged (– which is how long, anyway?) into some monolithic age group who has one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel. By using the term elderly to describe the older generation, younger people get to define who we are, or, we define ourselves as someone who is too old and too late to make any meaningful contribution to the life we are still living.

I think of an Elder in terms of a tribal elder, full of wisdom, respected, and sought out for what can be learned from them by the younger members of the tribe. Let’s call the tribe “Baby Boomers” and forget that it has a large proportion of idiots, but among them can be found those who have turned life experience into wisdom of the hard-earned kind.

I call on Accidental Hoarders and Packrats to become Legacy Years People who look at all the stuff they are overwhelmed by as legacies. Legacies are things that have come down to you through inheritance, things you have earned or purchased, and things you will hand on someday or discard. When you define yourself as elderly you look at your stuff as proof of your past, your failures and disappointments, the places you got stuck in your progress through life. You think of the disapproval of dead relatives who would be upset if you were to rid yourself of some of the stuff you inherited from them. You get hung up on the idea that you are your stuff. Could a change of vocabulary change the way you define who you are? Could you bring out the wiseman/wisewoman, the Elder, the Legacy Years Person, within you? Can anyone suggest a term to use to replace “elderly”?

Harriet Vaughan

About Harriet Vaughan

I am a Senior Move Manager, working with Senior Citizens and their families when it is time to downsize or just make the home safer and more comfortable for aging in place. I help these people make decisions about what to keep, throw out, donate, or sell. I also offer workshops on "Getting Things Done When You Are Over 60". I write about how to overcome memory lapses and how to use your physical energy well. I have a degree in Home Economics from the University of Maine. I live in Coopers Mills, about 14 miles east of Augusta. I have been married for almost 50 years to my husband, Chuck Vaughan. Our business is called Legacy Years Transition Services.