The names we use

The names we use for people over 50
Whatever you do, don’t say ‘elderly.’ The preferred word choice in a new survey: ‘older.’ By Marilyn Gardner
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0808/p15s01-lign.html

Makes sense as the Older Americans Act so designates those over 55. But 50?

That’s the question facing journalists who write about retirement and aging. But the issue goes beyond the language those in the media use. The words we all choose to describe people in midlife and beyond – ourselves and others – help to define and shape attitudes about the later years, both positive and negative…

Then there are the adjectives that are meant to sound complimentary but actually boomerang. Think of spry, perky, chipper, feisty, sweet, little, and grandmotherly. For one journalist responding to the survey, the cloying phrase “100 years young” represents the worst possible cliché about aging. […]

Time Goes By has frequently written about terminology. I don’t favor “elders” because it is an honorific in many cultures; “the elderlies” is a good compromise in New Mexico and elsewhere. Where is “aged” and aging/ageing”?

1 Response to “The names we use”


  1. 1 naomi dagen bloom 2007 August 8 at 9:22 am

    the entire word thing is a wash, IMHO. people ten years older than i usually called “old.” people younger? “a little younger than me…maybe in their sixties…” see what i mean?


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