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The Term “Elderly” – Use It or Not

elderly-signAs a gerontologist I am constantly advocating for older individuals, particularly on how they are being pigeon holed into a group that is seen through the eyes of the old model of disease and disability. The older model did not recognize that later life can be as or more rewarding than the younger years. This model used the term “elderly” to define a person in their 60′s and defined older persons as decrepit and disabled. The old model went out in the early 1990′s with the Successful Aging MacArthur Foundation 10-year study which found everyone could have success in aging.

Many journalists are recognizing that the term elderly is offensive and ageist. As a population, we need to educate ourselves and recognize that older individuals are one of the most valuable assets we have today in the world. So it would behoove those of us younger individuals to eliminate the term “elderly” from our vocabulary and replace it with “older person”. An article in the New York Times addressed the issue and you might want to read it to find out what other respected citizens think about the term. Link to the article.

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