Once again, an article debating what the word “elderly” means.
This article from Outside the Beltway is by James Joyner, a Professor and former Army officer and Desert Storm vet.
Joyner begins with two short anecdotes in which people get upset by being labeled “elderly.”
He then asks the real question:
Just how old is elderly? “Rather old,” according to Merriam-Webster, who doesn’t really help matters. “Being past middle age.”
He then talks about how at one time in the early 20th century America, “elderly” was preferred to “old.” However, by the mid-50s, people began turning against the word “elderly.”
The author refers to a 2013 NPR article called Let Me Live Long, But Don’t You Dare Call Me Old which quotes the AP Stylebook:
elderly Use this word carefully and sparingly. Do not refer to a person as elderly unless it is clearly relevant to the story.
It is appropriate in generic phrases that do not refer to specific individuals: concern for the elderly, a home for the elderly, etc.
If the intent is to show that an individual’s faculties have deteriorated, cite a graphic example and give attribution for it. Use age when available and appropriate.
This quoted article also talked about other euphemisms such as “older adults,”seniors,” and “elders” that were considered preferable.
After further discussion of his own age (55), the author ends his article by saying:
… I suspect “elderly” is very much like “rich.” The answer is always a number higher than oneself.
To read the original article click here.