Aging in Place: We Can Handle the Truth

Euphemisms and Aging in Place

You can’t handle the truth!

~Col Jessep A Few Good Men written by Aaron Sorkin

What is A Euphemism?

Definition by Rich Coffey:
“A euphemism is a substitution of a delicate or inoffensive term or phrase for one that has coarse, sordid, or otherwise unpleasant associations.” 

Aging in Place

We are a culture awash in euphemisms. Day-in-day-out, our large flat screens spoon-feed sugarcoated “facts” that keep us insulated and disconnected from reality. For example here are a few:

Certified Pre-Owned = USED

Genuine Imitation Leather = Cheap Vinyl

Partially Proficient = unQualified

My favorites from these professionals:

*Realtor: “Cozy Home” usually means its too small for your BIG screen TV

Politicians:  “Inoperative statements” bluntly–means Lies.

Orwell (1984)  called this kind of re-framing doublespeak, “doublethink or “newspeak.” Call it what you like, it is deliberately deceptive language and ubiquitous as oxygen in our culture.

Thriving in Place

When I read about a new movement euphemistically called “Thriving in Place” I understood the goal behind the marketing. Gerontophobia (fear of aging) is driving this, and if you want to sell services or products, the smart-marketers tell you to avoid the word “aging” like the plague. This falls into the “anti-aging” category and is a veiled form of ageism.  It sounds lovely…and something a marketer or politician would say to sell you what they are offering.

Life Stages

A man I respect greatly in the field of gerontology, Rick Harry Moody, once warned of the perils of dragging middle-aged values into older age; it is damaging to the soul. His point was not lost on me, I’ve been around older adults my entire life and I find most want to age well within their age. Each stage has its lessons and roles to be played out; not to be missed.

Don’t get me wrong, thriving is not antithetical to older ages, in fact, many in the so called 3rd Age are living full and exciting lives at home and in their communities. In my own experience I find living at home lies somewhere on a continuum from so-called “thriving” to low-energy days, and every shade in-between! I’m not unlike most middle-aged and older adults, we simply want a level of independence within our community, a space to cultivate our own uniqueness, and to preserve our natural daily rituals and routines (biorhythms/natural flow if you will). This defines aging in place for so many.

So Please don’t market us with Euphemisms, we are adults who have earned the respect not to be patronized. Sell us on non-stigmatizing design and function that respects aging for what it is; a natural process of development and change.

We can handle the truth… 


The PERNICIOUS Problem of Ageism 

Rick Harry Moody PhD: Dreams and Elder Initiations 

“Dreams and Elder Initiations,” in Bolton Anthony and Randy Morris (eds.), Rites of Passage into Elderhood, Second Journey, 2011.

(*Source: The Real Estate Euphemism Pocket Translator Report is designed to help prospective home buyers read between the lines. By Luke Mullins | Staff Writer Sept. 9, 2008,)

error: Content is protected !!