How best to refer to aging adults? Cast your vote

Margarita Cambest
  • Through midnight on Election Day, you can cast your vote for York’s preferred term of endearment for those over 50.

If this year’s presidential cycle has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, the Embracing Aging initiative is planning a different kind of election to try to take your mind off the national spectacle.

Cast your vote for what York County residents over 50 should be called at the Embracing Aging website.

Through midnight on Election Day, you can cast your vote for York’s preferred term of endearment for those over 50, says Embracing Aging managing director Cathy Bollinger.

Back in May, Embracing Aging brought in guest speaker Dr. Bill Thomas. The so-called aging speaker told the group he preferred the term “elders” to “older adults” or “seniors.”

“It got us thinking,” Bollinger said. “We wonder what the collective group of York County might be thinking about what we should call those in York County as they age.”

The tally started this week on the Embracing Aging website. The campaign calls for everyone in York County to cast their vote for one of three candidates — elder, senior or older adult. Write-in candidates also are accepted.

The idea for the campaign is to address how stereotypes associated with an aging adult can affect attitudes and perceptions across the community. A series of three videos is available on the website, touching on stereotypes associated with aging and how seniors are affected by community attitudes and perception.

Bollinger said when the initiative launched in 2014, staff got a lot of pushback about the name, validating ideas she and others already had.

“A lot of people don’t want to embrace aging,” she said. “Ageism is real and it exists. We need to do our part in getting conversations started so that people can be thinking about their own aging.”

The mission of the Embracing Aging initiative is to “make York County a great place to age.” With almost 40 percent of Yorkers now over the age of 50, Bollinger said they hope to reduce barriers for aging residents by providing grants to change attitudes on aging and increase work, volunteer, health, housing and transportation access.

The initiative is a program of the York County Community Foundation, which funds York County nonprofits with foundation endowments.

As of Wednesday afternoon, "older adult" is in the lead with 37 percent of the vote. Cast your vote here.