Learn English with Everest – Podcast: Vocabulary about ageing

Vocabulary about ageing

In this week's podcast you will learn English vocabulary about ageing and longevity.

Vocabulary about ageing

Welcome to the seventh episode in our podcast series. This week we’ll be listening to stories about older people. Do you think about growing older yourself? Listen to how attitudes towards ageing are changing and hear from people who lived to be over 100 years old on how they lived happily and healthily into old age.

You’ll find the scripts for each part of this episode here and don’t forget to check out the vocabulary about ageing at the end for words and phrases you may not have encountered before.

Episode 7: Growing Old (dis)gracefully


When I was growing up there was a programme on TV called Supergran. As you can imagine from the name, it was about an elderly grandmother, Granny Smith, who gains superpowers when she is accidentally hit by a magic ray. She then takes on the persona of Super Gran and helps protect her local town from baddies. I liked the idea of the show, and imagined that my nana could have an alter ego too and fight bad guys... The reality is of course that my nana was a super human regardless of whether she had been hit by a magic ray. This episode is about growing old gracefully or disgracefully - your choice, and to start us off, here is a poem for you by Judy Ball.


Story One:


Growing Old Disgracefully by Judy Ball


All my life I worried 'bout,

What others thought of me.

I always tried to watch myself,

And act as I should be.


Mind my manners, stand up straight,

And try to be a lady,

But we all knew that in my heart,

I was a little shady.


There was a wild thing lurking there,

Just below the surface,

Aching just to be set free,

And have myself a circus.


Now I'm old and just don't care.

You get just what you see.

I'll dress the way I want to dress,

Be what I want to be.


I'll ride my horse, run with my dogs,

Climb hills and even trees.

If folks don't like the way I look,

Too bad, 'cause this is me.


Story Two:


What comes to mind when you think of old age? Walking sticks? False teeth? Or do you think retirement? Freedom? Wisdom? Research has shown that stereotypes can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as they can affect how people view themselves, and their abilities. This next story is about age positivity.


You might be familiar with a road sign that shows two old people crossing the road. They have walking sticks, and are hunched over. But is this really an appropriate and fair representation? 


This question was asked by the charity Centre for Ageing Better, and was the starting point for a competition they launched which asked designers to submit ‘age positive’ alternatives. 


More than 120 entries were received of illustrations that depict the diversity of people in later life. The winning entry gave the original symbol of the couple crossing the road an energetic spin. Instead of hunched over with their walking stick, it depicts two people with a dancing cane, in the middle of a dance move. It’s very uplifting to look at.  


The new design will be used in reports and other materials to represent older people in a positive way. The winning icon will be made publicly available for unlimited use.


Perhaps something as simple as changing the way elderly people are presented to us will cause us to challenge the assumptions we make about ageing.


Story Three:


Studies claim that to live a very long life, it’s important to maintain friendships, to keep a positive attitude, to get some exercise, not to stress out too much, and to have really good genes (the genetic kind that is, not the denim kind). Some centenarians however have also added their personal secrets for living so long. 



Jeanne Calment died at the age of 122 years and 164 days old, she is the current Guinness world record holder. She credited her long, long, long life to drinking port every day, eating just under 1kg of chocolate every week, and keeping a sense of humour. She also consumed a lot of extra virgin olive oil which she put in everything but milk, and also rubbed on her skin.



Besse Berry Cooper-Brown was a retired school teacher who lived to be 116. She took pride in her mostly spotless voting record - since 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women to vote, she had only missed voting twice. Cooper-Brown credited refusing to eat junk food as one reason for living so long, but she also "said that her secret was staying out of others' business."



"Miss Susie" Jones was the oldest living resident of New York until she died in 2016 at the age of 116. She never smoked, drank alcohol, wore makeup, or dyed her hair, but did enjoy eating four strips of bacon every morning, alongside scrambled eggs and corn porridge



Christian Mortensen passed away at 115 years and 252 days old. He gave credit to living for so long to friends, no alcohol, staying positive, singing, a good cigar, and drinking lots of good water - specifically, boiled water. 



Jiroemon Kimura lived to be 116 years and 54 days old. A former post office worker, Kimura ate a breakfast of porridge and miso soup with potatoes and vegetables every day, kept a positive attitude, and always paid attention to contemporary politics in his native Japan. His motto was “to eat light and live long," never smoking, only moderately drinking alcohol, and eating until he is 80 percent full. 



Kane Tanaka is currently the oldest living person at 118 years old. She likes to keep her mind active, and on a normal day at her nursing home, she wakes up at 6am and in the afternoon often studies subjects like maths. One of her favourite pastimes however is a game of Othello and she's become an expert at the classic board game, often beating the staff.




Vocabulary about ageing

Learn English with Everest Podcast: Vocabulary about ageing:

This glossary accompanies Episode 7 of the podcast series and will provide short definitions of words and terms you heard or read which may be new or unfamiliar to you.



  • gains - obtains or achieves or gets
  • ray - a beam or a long piece of light
  • an alter ego - an alternative personality, a second separate identity

Story One:

  • mind my manners - be polite, follow good etiquette 
  • lurking - hiding
  • aching - hurting, but also, wanting something so much that it hurts
  • too bad - something you say to mean “I don’t care” and/or that a problem can’t be fixed

Story Two:

  • self-fulfilling prophecies - a prediction that comes true because you expect it to happen
  • hunched over - with your back bent over, not standing or sitting up straight - you can be hunched over while walking and, for example, while working at a desk
  • cane - a walking stick
  • uplifting - something that is uplifting will make you feel happier
  • ageing - getting older

Story Three:

  • centenarians - people who have lived to be 100 years old
  • porridge - usually a breakfast food of a type of cereal (in Ireland - oats!) cooked in milk or water
  • spotless - clean, with no mistakes or missing information 
  • pastimes - hobbies and activities that you do in your free tim