Let's Settle This 'Elderly' Dispute

You tell us - How old is elderly?

Earlier this week, we ran a local crime story titled "," which stirred up a side discussion among our readers about age.

Every so often we will run a story with the world "elderly" in the headline: such as or .

These 'elder' posts almost always initiate a discussion as to why or why not the individual we've written about is old enough to be elderly - so we've decided to settle the dispute once and for all as part of our new column.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines elderly as "rather old - being past middle age."

Responses to these stories included:

  • The headline used the descriptive term "elderly". Since when are citizens below the age of retirement referred to as "elderly"? The author of the article and/or report needs to find more apt language.
  • I, being a 63-year-old woman who is working full time and still very active, resent the fact that a 64-year-old woman was identified as "Elderly," Now please don't misunderstand me I have no problem with someone being actually "Elderly," but 64 years old??? The National Institute of Health still considers age 64 as "middle age."
  • Come on! You're considered elderly as soon as your turn 65 and even then it really depends on what kind of shape you're in.
  • The only people who think 65 isn't elderly are already 65 years old.
  • How old was the person who wrote this story? 19!? A "child"!?
  • I'm a 70-year-old woman who is still working and active - does this mean that I'm elderly?


Thanks to this column, we've learned that our readers ; don't think you ; and are split on whether or not .


Now we want to know - where do you stand?

Let us know by voting in our poll below and sharing your opinion in the comments section.

Bryan McGonigle (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Haha love this post. Sorry Owen, but I gotta side with your readers on this one. I would NEVER call people my around parents' age (baby boomers) "elderly." Not without expecting a really nasty glare and possible smack upside the head.
Elizabeth July 05, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Part of the problem about being called "elderly" is that it has so many negative connotations. If getting older were consistently seen as positive, then this whole question might go away. Here's to seeing all people, of any age, as individuals with different things to offer us!
Joe Whipple July 05, 2012 at 03:37 PM
IMO the reason elderly people (i.e., those approaching old age) don't want to be called elderly is because they think it means old. The reason people think elderly means old is that it has often been used as a euphemism for old. Then again, maybe some elderly people don't even want to admit that they're elderly. I enjoy it, as I take my discounted rides on the subway, and ask for what I call the "geezer's discount" at Crosby's.
Joe Whipple July 05, 2012 at 03:41 PM
P.S. I once had a neighbor tell me, in all seriousness, "After 50, Joe, borrowed time. Borrowed time." Even though I was under 50 at the time, I thought that was a bit extreme. But I do think, "After sixty, approaching old age."
Peter Phillips July 05, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I agree with Joe. There are many perks to becoming a Senior Citizen, and I try to take advantage of all of them. OK, I am "elderly." I am 70. I am happy to be older. I guess, I do prefer the term, "senior citizen" to "elderly," but either one is accurate. I am not getting any younger. Give me all your senior discounts. I will graciously accept!
Jimmy McNulty July 08, 2012 at 11:05 AM
As long as they aren't driving, I guess elderly is fine.
mary p. ayer July 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Age is relative!! If you are a teenager 50 is looking a bit old! I have friends who are much younger then me and are sooo out of shape compared to me. You are so much younger ,when you are "older", if you took care of yourself when you were young!! Age is a number. When you are a child, you are delighted if people think you are older, teenagers love to look older, ---then we hit 40ish-60ish and are thrilled if people think we are younger! I nearly kiss the person who thinks I am my daughter's sister!! Fun!! Take care of yourself, think young, play, read, be interested in everything around you. You will never be called "elderly" if you do. Enjoy!!
Linda ardakani December 23, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Elderly is a pejorative label in modern western, primarily American, culture. If you say a person is "older" or "63", that is ok because it's just the truth. "Older" is simply a relative term, not a label. But why not simply avoid mentioning age unless it is necessary. Calling me elderly is classifying me inti a scary inferior species that normals hope to avoid.


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