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Senior citizen is a common polite designation for an elderly person in both UK and US English, and it implies or means that the person is retired. This in turn implies or in fact means that the person is over the retirement age, which of course varies according to country. Synonyms include pensioner in UK English and retiree and senior in US English. Some dictionaries describe widespread usage of "senior citizen" already for people over the age of 60, which is not a common retirement age. "Senior citizen" is replacing the term old-age pensioner traditionally used in UK English.

When defined in an official context, "senior citizen" is often used for legal or policy-related reasons in determining who is eligible for certain benefits available to the age group.

It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as "old person", "old-age pensioner", or "elderly" as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as "citizens" of society, of "senior" rank.

The term was apparently coined in 1938 during a political campaign. It has come into widespread use in recent decades in legislation, commerce, and common speech. Especially in less formal contexts, it is often abbreviated as "senior(s)", which is also used as an adjective.

In commerce, businesses often offer "senior discounts", sometimes with a special "senior discount card".

Qualifying age

The age which qualifies for senior citizen status varies widely. In governmental contexts it is usually associated with an age at which pensions or medical benefits for the elderly become available. In commercial contexts, where it may serve as a marketing device to attract customers, the age is often significantly lower.

In the United Statesmarker, the standard retirement age is currently 65 (gradually increasing to 67).

The AARP allows couples in which one spouse has reached the age of 50 to join, regardless of the age of the younger spouse.

See also


  7. Mental Health Concepts by Claire G. Waughfield, Teresa S. Burckhalter
  8. The Senior Times

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