Columns 20.12.2017 06:00 am

What’s in a name for oldies?

To those gingerly embracing prophetic three score and 10 during the festive season, the words “old age” are loathed.

Like oldage home. That these institutions are sojourns for the long in the tooth is totally irrelevant.

Nobody likes admitting to being over the hill, clinging to the illusion of immortality and singing the ditty Forever Young in the shower (even while falling off a slippery shower chair).

Politicians – especially despots and fools – are notorious for believing they’re here forever. But back to the homes in question. Wily developers, spotting a lucrative market, have come up with what they think are pacifying labels. Like home for senior citizens. Or, centre for seniors.

The latest lark is calling them security villages (sadly, even these are being targeted by criminals). What’s even more intriguing are brand names. The word golden is the most popular. Like Golden Harvest. What has gold to do with the price of eggs? Gold sparkles, old age doesn’t – even among the most optimistic.

And losing one’s marbles, or hair, or teeth, or all three, can in no way be equated to a rich harvest. How about silver? Silver Threads. Something to be proud of? Going grey is supposed to be a sign of maturity. Like in vrotting wine?

Nice thought for someone trying to stay alive. I came across more nonsensical names that are an insult to folk who have been through the mill, and who to a greater or lesser degree have had their share of successes, failures, disappointments, sadness and happiness.

They don’t deserve being housed in places called Stepping Stones, Paradise Place, Abundant Life, Last Post, Cloud Nine, or Restful Sleep (if anything, you want to keep awake in case the Grim Reaper springs a surprise).

A particularly funny one has its origins in the US: Rocking Chair Village, with the blurb “a place to bring back sweet memories”. Its practical implication makes sense – at the end of the day that’s all oldies have to cling to. This one comes from Cape West Coast. Rustelose Hawe – meaning restless haven. It probably should read, rustvol, meaning restful.

But perhaps the thought of being restless while awaiting the move to the next life gives meaning to the name? How about a rocking chair for Christmas?

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