Yesterday I was jolted when an acquaintance referred to a 72 year old couple (friends/peers of ours) as "elderly"! And I wondered, "When do you become elderly?" Will we be termed "elderly" in five years or less?
I am accustomed to being called an "older woman". My first brush with that idea was in my 50's when a student at 6th St mission in Philly passed by my sister and I in a hallway at the mission and asked his buddy, Who are those old women?' I looked around and did not see any old women- so I asked him, "How old do you think I am?" His first guess was 103! Whoa! What a joke!
But since then my hair color has changed and other signs of aging have appeared..like the onset of Medi-care, senior discounts plus other advantages or disadvantages. Even though my husband is fast approaching the big 70- we continue to think of ourselves as "young seniors".
But "elderly"??? -wait a minute!!! I checked the dictionary. It says "Seniors, somewhat old, beyond middle life." OK, so we are somewhat old and beyond middle-aged. Since most of our children are middle-aged, it is not hard to recognize that we are beyond middle-age. But elderly- that is a new thought! Do we need a new definition for the word - or what?
There is one consolation- I looked up the word "aged" too. The definition for aged is "VERY OLD". OK, so we may be about to move into the camp of elderly- but we are not aged or ancient quite yet. After all, we still work for a living, have our driver's license and a valid passport. We have not celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, put in a reservation at a nursing home or become great-grandparents yet.
But then, in third world countries, it is a great honor and blessing to arrive at an old age. God has blessed us with life! Have we let the world pour us into it's mold of thinking old age is undesirable? The only other choice is to quit breathing- and we thank God for life- even if it feels like a transition to be viewed as "elderly". We dreamed of growing old together- and thank God for the privilege of spending 47 years together in our "Landis Home".