Boomers Hate Being Called a Senior
A month ago, the front page story of the Omaha World Herald was titled: “Baby Boomers cringe at ‘senior’ label.”
Aging baby boomers do not think of themselves as old and definitely do not want to be labeled with any word that sounds old. Putting the words boomer and senior in the same sentence just doesn’t mix well.
Recognizing this, a group of retirement communities in Omaha is actually changing their name from Immanuel Senior Living to Immanuel Communities. And another national group suggests that we consider renaming the senior citizen activity centers in our cities from “senior centers” to “boomer café’s” or “boomer centers.”
So, if this discussion is making headlines in local newspapers across the country, shouldn’t we in the church be paying attention?
I have heard many times from church leaders, “I just can’t get the 60 year olds to come to our senior adult activity!” Well, for starters, boomers don’t like to be called seniors. And, like it or not, the terminology we use is important. Language can either attract people or turn people away.
That of course begs the question – what should we call this group of new-olds? The encore generation is a name I like and is certainly gaining speed in popularity and recognition. Also, just the term ‘boomers’ seems to be acceptable…at least for now.
But most important, we need to constantly remind ourselves that people are people. Every individual is unique and very few of us like to be labeled. In fact, the marketing tagline for Immanuel Communities is “Uniquely Your Own.”
This reminds me of a cartoon I saw a long time ago, where a social worker was asking questions of a very old man. She said, “And what would you like to be called…old geezer?, golden ager?, senior citizen?” He thought for a long moment and said, “How about Tom. I’ll just go by my name, Tom.”
What names or titles for ministry with baby boomers and the new-old are you finding to be effective? Let’s hear your ideas.