Senior or Older Adult? Understanding the Terminology of Senior Living


When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



If age is just a number, then why do common descriptors of people who’ve reached a certain number of years often seem more like a stigma? That’s because when it comes to aging, language matters. The words we use to describe our parents and grandparents reflect our vision of their capabilities and their contributions. But it also says a lot about us too. At Vitality Living, we consider it important to use language that shows our respect and appreciation. Here’s how we approach the question, senior or older adult?

Being a Senior or Older Adult as Part of Life’s Journey

A natural part of life, aging is an organic transformation bound into human experience. When we label older people, it sometimes is a reflection of society’s efforts to cut off that experience. Seniors become those people- the ones we don’t want be, so we give them a separate name, their own designation.

But language can have just the opposite effect. We can choose words that suggest joy, vitality, energy, and continued creativity. We can craft a vocabulary that embraces and celebrates the natural process of aging. Perhaps we should talk about evolving, growing, and experiencing a full life. See? There are ways to describe aging that are empowering, not minimizing.

Senior or older adult: why does it sometimes seem difficult to find the right words? Everyone wants to live longer, but no one wants to be old. At the same time, there’s just something silly about insisting that grandma is “89 years young!” Language must be kind and should be encouraging, but it also has to be honest.

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The Rise of “Older Adult”

That’s why terms like “older adult” have become increasingly accepted. Caregivers, housing communities, and journalists are coming around to this terminology too. In fact, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has even recommended refraining from using words like “seniors” and “elderly” and instead using the term “older adult” when describing individuals aged 64 and older.

First of all, it’s honest. Everyone is older than someone, by definition. It’s a factual representation of this individual’s status and achievements. Yes, longevity is an achievement. Simply making it this far merits recognition and respect.

A term like this also seems to be free of the stigmas that accompany labels like “elderly,” with its implications of physical incapacity and a diminished mental state. It would seem incongruous for your “elderly” aunt to take a spin class, but a bunch of older people getting together to pursue physical wellness and mental stimulation—that makes perfect sense!

The “Senior” Living Experience Has Evolved

This is also more reflective of today’s senior living experience. However well-intended, terms like “elderly” and “seniors” are antiquated, reflecting the image of dusty bingo halls and rocking chairs of years past.

Older adults are the wisest living generation. They have contributed a great deal and are still learning and growing. They have gotten this far (no small trick!) and remain an important part of our families and society regardless of whether we refer to them as senior or older adult. However, when we embrace a new terminology, we make room for people to be who they are and express themselves in new and vibrant ways, unhindered by the stigma of labels that no longer apply.

For more information, download our Senior Living Options Guide today! Or contact us today to schedule a tour of a community near you.

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