Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Aging Must Be Politically Correct

It seems as though I won’t be aging gracefully as a “little old lady” like my Big Mama (grandma) did. She, by the way, lived to be 100 years old and in my eyes she was a “sweet, little old lady.”

There appears to be a rallying cry from an ageism campaign group out of California to ban descriptions like “old” “elderly” and even “senior” when making reference to those of us over the age of 50. The International Longevity Center has gone as far as to create a new media guide.

According to Dr. Robert Butler, President and CEO of the Longevity Center, the guide “is an important step in overcoming ageist language and beliefs by providing journalists and others who work in the media with an appropriate body of knowledge…”

Here are some of the words they want eliminated:
• Ancient
• Biddy
• Blubbering idiot
• Dirt ball
• Crotchety old man
• Dirty old man
• Fogy
• Fossil
• Geezer
• Hag
• Little old lady
• Old fart
• Old goat
• One foot in the grave
• Over the hill
• Prune
• Senile old fool
• Sweet old lady

As a working journalist over the age of 50, I know better than to use those words and I would certainly hope that my younger colleagues know better too. Sometimes I even question why we use the word "baby boomer" to describe our generation, although I do understand how the terminology got its name.

The guide also suggests that “attributing physical decline to age erroneously suggests that age itself is the cause of decline when, in fact, illness is often the cause. Further, diseases that manifest themselves later in life are often caused by behavior and environmental exposure early in life.”

So I guess the middle age spread I am now in a battle with must be attributed to all that pizza I ate in my teens and twenties and not the result of the slowing down of my metabolism. But how does one explain arthritis, wrinkles and sagging breasts?