I’ve just attended the 2012 Age Boom Academy at the Columbia Journalism School: five days immersed in expert presentations on all aspects of aging, from healthcare reform to new developments in cognitive science. Excellent stuff, and more about it soon. The conference was sponsored by Atlantic Philanthropies, where Pulitzer-Prizewinning writer and New York Times veteran Jack Rosenthal is now a Senior Fellow. On the first day he asked us a question: what should we call the population we journalists are writing about?
Rosenthal has written about this before, as have I, and none of the contenders (wellderly, senior citizens, elders) have hit the spot. I propose “olders.” It’s short. It’s not cute. It’s value-neutral (“elder” and “senior” imply that younger = lesser). And it emphasizes the intuitively obvious but often overlooked point that age is a continuum. Language that subverts the young/no-longer young binary that prevails in American society also challenges the ageist assumptions that accompany that theoretical divide. Olders, youngers, fellow Age Boom Fellows, what do you think?