Carol Burnett once said: “Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”
Words matter. Words label and define us.
In the same way that none of us would expect to hear “old folks’ home” used today, so too do we hope to retire outdated expressions that no longer define the work we do or the population we serve.
Today’s older adults are redefining life after 50 with a renewed emphasis on the things that matter most. And we all should be right alongside them on the journey to what’s next, turning ordinary moments into extraordinary ones and changing the way we talk and label things in our industry, in order to break down long-held stereotypes.
Mather is known for purposeful and unique language. As with many in this industry, you won’t hear our team saying words like senior, facility, or unit. We’re deliberate in how we describe things and how we market our residences and services.
The careful use of language surrounding residences—and aging in general—is about much more than spin or euphemisms. That’s why all of us at Mather have long been advocates for challenging beliefs by changing up everyday language, which, in turn, changes perceptions of aging. The senior-living lexicon with words and phrases needs to be rewritten based on clarity and heart.
Mather likes to challenge the status quo, and sometimes that means inventing our own words.
We try to make our unique terms playful but purposeful. And we help employees get to know this language and use it naturally when speaking about their work.
We started by coining the term Repriorment™ to replace “retirement.” It means: Discovering the joy of new directions and having the time to focus on the things that matter most to you.
Most recently, as part of our brand refresh in late 2019, we introduced the word Nextraordinary.™
The definition: To discover Ways to Age Well that transcend the ordinary.
Other terms we’ve coined: Possibilities Team for our senior leadership; Experience Centers for our departments; and Mather Gathers for our organization-wide meetings.
Coining new terms takes time and imagination. But that’s not a drawback. We’ve found that changing the language refreshes everyone’s thinking.
Our language is unique to Mather; it’s a differentiator. But we’re not the only provider changing the way we talk—there are many others creating consumer-friendly language throughout this field. We at Mather look forward to the continuing transformation of the language of senior living to words that are warm, creative, and exciting—and the changed perceptions to follow.
Could your social worker now be called a listening liaison, for instance?
We continue to look for ways to connect and stay relevant with today’s consumers and future residents, and we know you do too. We study language. We listen. We observe what is happening around us. By being constant language learners, we are able to break through the clutter and speak directly to the person in a way that is ageless.
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