Is language like 'seniors' and 'seniors' disrespectful to refer to someone over 65? - Hello careful (2023)

Older people have long been the victims of stereotypes in modern society, and growing up in the 1980s, it was not uncommon to hear terms like "silly old man" or a person described as "lost" when it came to cognitive impairments.

A lot has changed in the last 30 years when it comes to older people, and after three decades of education and research, it has been realized that terms like these can be offensive and also dilute the real problems and causes of cognitive impairments like dementia. .

While some of the terms from years ago were very dismissive and insensitive towards these issues, they were likely born out of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the issue, and very few would argue that eliminating such language is not a positive thing. .

In 2019, however, terminology and language surveillance issues are at such a radioactive level that one wrong word or phrase can lead to everything from losing your career to being hounded by hordes of keyboard warriors who patrol the internet for be poorly marked.

Things have gotten so out of hand in recent years that many, like myself, are questioning the validity of various proposed politically correct terminologies and whether some of these word changes are just an attempt to hide the fact that there are no new answers to many of the very real problems that people are currently facing.

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recently theJournal of the American Society of Geriatricssignaled the intention of trying to reframe aging, changing a series of terms and phrases associated with older people, allowing researchers to publish their work on this platform.

One such recommendation is to avoid using words like "senior" and "senior" when describing people of older ages and instead use the term "senior" when describing people aged 65 and over.

One of the more confusing language recommendations called for people to stop using terms like "struggle", "struggle" or "battle" to describe the aging experiences people may be going through, and instead what they were labelinga metaphor “The Building Momentum”.

The example given is actually: "Aging is a dynamic process that leads to new skills and knowledge that we can share with our communities."

Now, while I know I'm not an "older adult" and I haven't spent years polling people over 65 and asking them how they would best describe their experiences, I bet most of them would think the last recommendation was one of thebiggest heaps of garbagethey had already heard.

Having personally observed how my own elderly grandmother “struggled” and “struggled” to keep age-related issues from interfering with her independence, there was not a single point during these years when I felt her fall into a 'dynamic process that leads to new skills. and knowledge.'

That sounds like a ridiculous level of frosting to me, and like anything else with too much sugar, this new level of word vigilance is starting to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

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What do the experts say?

I had the pleasure of Dr. Interview Jenny Robinson, who is Senior Lecturer and Master of Communications at RMIT.

Dr Robinson took the time to speak with HelloCare and share his thoughts on how specific terminology can influence the broader social views of older Australians.

“This is part of a bigger problem we have in society, which is changing the language and changing the way we frame issues around people and groups in a way that treats them with respect and is positive, rather than framing them as otherness," said Dr. Robinson.

“Older people are often portrayed as unproductive and non-participants in society. People see aging as a terminal phase and loss of usefulness, instead of seeing it as it is now, which is a longer period of life, where everyone is very different and there is a lot of capacity in life.”

When asked whether the change in terminology associated with aging simply obscures the reality for some people, Dr. Robinson that while there may be obvious struggles, it's more important to highlight the positives.

"We need to make sure the conversation about older people and aging gracefully is done in a way that puts the positive first and obviously recognizes the struggle."

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Dr Robinson continued, “The way we structure our relationships with people ties into this general debate about how we treat the elderly. We know that how these issues are portrayed in public life influences how individuals treat the elderly in their lives.”

I asked Dr. Robinson, what did she think of the idea of ​​replacing words like "battle", "struggle" and "battle" in reference to older themes with those suggested"Aging is a dynamic process that leads to new skills and knowledge that we can share with our communities," says the sentence.

And she laughed at my call'Trash'Because of this recommendation, she believed it came from a research facility and was aimed specifically at an American audience.

“The reorientation is taking place here in a very strong way at the organizational and social level. So when we talk about older people and the struggle and struggle of transitioning with age, that's true for a lot of people, but not a lot of people."

Dr Robinson continued, "I would say this particular metaphor might work in America but I wouldn't use it in Australia, this research is keyword-based and has been carefully chosen and is based on how Americans view this subject." to see."

She added: "Australians tend to be a little more down to earth and less idealistic in the language we use, we respond to words a little more pragmatic. But the key point is that this can be a positive and not always a negative."

When asked about her experiences with older Australians and how she thought they would like to be approached, Dr. Robinson with this unique vision.

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"I often say 'experienced person' or 'experienced person' when I work with seniors because even though they may be in the early stages of Alzheimer's, they are still drawn to their life experience."

Dr Robinson explained: "'Mature' is a key word. 'Older people' don't bother them as much. We have old age provision and they see it as a life category and a systematic concept. Older people are problematic because many of these people still feel young and fertile... 'Older people' suggests a level of definition of who they are as a person.”

She commented, "Everyone has an opinion and their own experiences and as you know a lot of these people feel isolated when you see older people who have been marginalized and labelled."

When asked about her thoughts on the word "elders", given the high esteem in which the term is held in Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures, Dr. Robinson the following:"Older people want to do what they can to contribute their experience and what they can contribute, so it would be wonderful to go back to the concept of calling these people 'elders' and the idea that they are experienced, knowledgeable and wise, rather than to weaken.”

She continued: "Given our outrage and the traditions we can build on in Australia, there's something about the notion of 'elders' that I think has great potential."

Before we add: "What we're trying to do with language is allow people to see this as a productive and innovative phase of life, and something that has meaning and value, rather than always being a struggle or a struggle."

While I agree with some of the things Dr. Robinson said, I'm worried that people tend to go overboard with things like this.

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Everyone deserves to be talked about and considered in a way that allows them to feel like a valued member of society, but in some ways I believe that changing terminologies to words that only reflect the positive things associated with aging is a way of hiding the problems too much. real.

I prefer to use words that are sincere and best describe a situation rather than using words that fit a certain narrative, but at the end of the day, I'm willing to use whatever terms I'm told, as long as those terms become older people. happy.


How do you refer to someone over 65? ›

"Boomers," "old people," "senior citizens," "seniors," "elderly," and "golden-agers". These are just a few of the phrases that are commonly used to describe a generation of adults over 65.

What is an example of ageist language? ›

Ageist language might include phrases or words such as “geezer,” “elderly,” “senior,” “senile,” “old school,” or “kiddo,” “girl,” or “young man.” More neutral and descriptive terms such as “older people” or “younger people” help to address stereotyping or caricatures.

What is the appropriate terminology for older adults? ›

because [they] connote discrimination and certain negative stereotypes.”1 The journal thus adopted “older adult(s)” and “older person/people” as preferred terminology, explicitly advocating against using “the elderly,” “senior(s),” and/or “senior citizen(s).”

What is the politically correct way to say seniors? ›

“We are a ministry that responsibly enhances the lives of older adults with Christ-like love.” The term older adult along with 55 and better, 55+, retiree, elder or baby boomer tend to be the most acceptable or the most politically correct terms in use at the moment.

What are derogatory words for old people? ›

Around the same time, ''codger,'' ''old guard'' and ''superannuated'' acquired pejorative senses, joined later in the century by new disparagements like ''oldster,'' ''fuddy-duddy,'' ''coot'' and ''geezer.

Is 65 years old considered elderly? ›

There is no standard definition for the term elderly. According to the United States Social Security Administration, anyone age 65 or older is elderly.

What are five example of ageism? ›

Examples of ageism

refusing to hire people over or under a certain age. asking for someone's age at a job interview when it is not relevant to the work. enacting policies that unfairly privilege one age group over another. viewing older people as out of touch, less productive, or stuck in their ways.

What are two examples of ageism? ›

Telling a woman she's “too old” to wear certain styles or outfits (particularly ones that are considered “sexy.”) "Anti-aging" products and services. Praising older people by comparing them to younger ones: "You look good for [your age]," "You're young at heart.” “Are you really that old?

What are some examples of stereotyping elderly? ›

Common negative stereotypes about older people include their suffering from poor health and loneliness, physical and cognitive incompetency, unproductivity and unattractiveness [2, 3, 9, 44].

What are the three D's of older adults? ›

Abstract. The three D's of Geriatric Psychiatry-delirium, dementia, and depression-represent some of the most common and challenging diagnoses for older adults.

Is the word geriatric offensive? ›

Although geriatric was once used in the medical field as a noun meaning an older person, that use is now considered offensive. It is also considered offensive when used as an adjective to describe a thing (such as a machine) that's worn out or useless.

Is it rude to call someone elderly? ›

In 1995, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of Older Persons rejected the term elderly in preference of 'older persons'.

How do you call address someone who is older than you? ›

Ma'am or Sir

Again, if you're ever unsure of how to refer to someone older than you—including a family friend—you can default to “sir” or “ma'am.” For women, you can also use the term, “madam.” Unlike Mr., Mrs., and Ms., you don't need to include a last name or surname after sir, ma'am, or madame.

How would you categorize a person's age? ›

The following are the American Medical Associations' age designations:
  1. Neonates or newborns (birth to 1 month)
  2. Infants (1 month to 1 year)
  3. Children (1 year through 12 years)
  4. Adolescents (13 years through 17 years. ...
  5. Adults (18 years or older)
  6. Older adults (65 and older)*
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