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Correct and Preferred Usage

Roxanne K. Young


Discrimination based on age (young or old) is ageism. Because the term elderly connotes a stereotype, avoid using it as a noun. When referring to the entire population of elderly persons, use of the elderly may be appropriate (as in the impact of prescription drug costs on the elderly, for example). Otherwise, terms such as older persons, older people, elderly patients, geriatric patients, older adults, older patients, aging adults, persons 65 years and older, or the older population are preferred.

Note: In studies that involve human beings, age should always be given specifically. Researchers in geriatrics may use defined terms for older age groups, eg, young-old (usually defined as 60 or 65 to 70 or so years) and old-old (80 years and older). See also 11.5, Age and Sex Referents.

Adultism is a form of ageism in which children and adolescents are discounted.20

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