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The Aging Tsunami: Time for a New Metaphor?

The Aging Tsunami: Time for a New Metaphor? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 56:181–184, 2013 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0163-4372 print/1540-4048 online DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2013.787348 Editorial A POPULAR METAPHOR The aging tsunami is gaining momentum and I’m not talking about popu- lation demographics. It’s the metaphor. Google’s new Ngram Viewer shows a dramatic rise in the use of the phrase “age wave” since the 1980s, and a quick Google search yields over 8,000 hits for “aging tsunami” in the news. Japan is “bracing” for it, Iran is “threatened,” and Hawaii is preparing for a “coordinated effort.” In the Pacific we have experience with tsunamis: great walls of water that destroy or displace everything in their path and then recede, leav- ing nothing behind but rubble, salty mud, and broken lives. There’s nothing human about a tsunami. It’s a nasty metaphor for older adults. Andrea Charise (2012) points out that “it testifies to the barely con- scious figurative language that serves to construct perceptions of an aging population”—inaccurate, damaging perceptions, at that. HOW DO YOU STOP A METAPHOR? My first impulse is to smother it with facts. Yes, the U.S. survival curve looks more and more like a rectangle (Arias, 2007). Yes, global life expectancy http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal Of Gerontological Social Work Taylor & Francis

The Aging Tsunami: Time for a New Metaphor?

Journal Of Gerontological Social Work , Volume 56 (3): 4 – Apr 1, 2013
4 pages

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References (17)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1540-4048
eISSN
0163-4372
DOI
10.1080/01634372.2013.787348
pmid
23548140
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 56:181–184, 2013 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0163-4372 print/1540-4048 online DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2013.787348 Editorial A POPULAR METAPHOR The aging tsunami is gaining momentum and I’m not talking about popu- lation demographics. It’s the metaphor. Google’s new Ngram Viewer shows a dramatic rise in the use of the phrase “age wave” since the 1980s, and a quick Google search yields over 8,000 hits for “aging tsunami” in the news. Japan is “bracing” for it, Iran is “threatened,” and Hawaii is preparing for a “coordinated effort.” In the Pacific we have experience with tsunamis: great walls of water that destroy or displace everything in their path and then recede, leav- ing nothing behind but rubble, salty mud, and broken lives. There’s nothing human about a tsunami. It’s a nasty metaphor for older adults. Andrea Charise (2012) points out that “it testifies to the barely con- scious figurative language that serves to construct perceptions of an aging population”—inaccurate, damaging perceptions, at that. HOW DO YOU STOP A METAPHOR? My first impulse is to smother it with facts. Yes, the U.S. survival curve looks more and more like a rectangle (Arias, 2007). Yes, global life expectancy

Journal

Journal Of Gerontological Social WorkTaylor & Francis

Published: Apr 1, 2013

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