Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q:  Yikes. How do I communicate with my grands?

A: Multi-generational holiday gatherings can be warm, exciting events. But conversations infused with current slang can also create “communication anxiety.” Apart from differing social and political views, ConCcommunication across the generations has been a challenge since–always! According to a 2017 study by Great Senior Living, “Baby Boomers — the generation busy shaming millennials over avocado toast — are the least likely of any generation to recognize the meanings of today’s most commonly used slang terms.”

 Language differences

My retired military officer husband once referred to a much younger colleague as “shorty.” The room of 20-somethings erupted into laughter and he was left looking sheepish. In the military, being “short” means your assignment is almost over. In the slang of the younger people, it carries other meanings.  The new use of old words is not disrespectful –it’s a sign that language is dynamic and ever-changing. The word “sick” now conveys a very high approval rating as does “dope,” used to describe just about anything good in life. For an interesting few minutes, search words at and scroll through for different meanings.

The new shorthand

On social media, every generational cohort can find others who “speak their language.” Texting and social media has introduced acronyms like TBH (to be honest), LOL (laugh out loud), IMO (in my opinion), FOMO (fear of missing out) and many, many others. Why? It’s fast and easy when you’re “typing” with two thumbs!

Other differences

Your college-age granddaughter likely gets her news (on her phone) from her favorite digital sources and podcasts– not traditional media. Casual outreach is the new norm, so if your next holiday invitation comes by text or E-invite, chillax! Younger people far prefer texts and (when forced) email, rather than talking on the phone. You’re still wanted — and that’s the important part.

Accept and learn

Ask what words mean and have fun learning about current trends! Curiosity demonstrates your interest in the younger individual as a person. Conversation opens the opportunity to bond, where you can share your experience and taste in popular culture. Assume all is well, unless you hear, “Okay, Boomer” — a dismissive phrase that mocks the attitudes of those considered old fashioned or out of touch.

Be your authentic self

Communicating with younger people doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your own vocabulary with the slang dictionary. Today’s young people value authenticity! Don’t worry about being “cheugy” (outdated) to the millennials, Gen Y and Z in your life. The important thing to do is connect.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.