The Elderly

7 Patronizing Antonyms. Full list of opposite words of patronizing.

The title of the article “Don’t Patronize Older Adults by Calling Them ‘the Elderly’” annoyed me. As a woman of color, I was raised to call my elders “sir” or “ma’am”; and, yes, I have referred to a group of older adults as my elders and not once have they frowned upon these respectful titles. So, I sat down to read journalist Adrienne Lone’s piece to see what had changed. The paragraph that made me roll my eyes was “Every time we say, ‘the elderly,’ we reduce the defining features of a group of individuals to a patronizingly simplified version of what it means to be old. ‘The elderly’ becomes the standard for maintaining an artificial and damaging binary divide between young and old. The world is beyond binaries.” I had to sigh and ask, “When did our society become so damn touchy?” If that is not enough, Ashton Applewhite, expert on ageism and author of “This Chair Rocks,” says we distance ourselves from older people because we fear them. Or rather, we fear our becoming them. I call bullshit on this and wanted to know if I was the only one, so I sent this article out to my circle of support, and shared it with my colleagues and students with a simple statement “Love to hear your thoughts on this?” Most were shocked and agreed with me, a few pointed out this was an issue of vanity and cultural differences. Several commented that Lone and Applewhite may want to take time to read John Leland’s bookHappiness is a Choice You Make The book is a great read and is the account of a yearlong conversation between a New York Times journalist and six people who are among the “oldest old” in America. I would love to hear your thoughts on this article, my dear reader.


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11 Responses to The Elderly

  1. Maybe “the elderly” serves to diminish wisdom

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeffw5382 says:

    I really don’t mind any title that a younger person might bestow upon me, I am old 61 compared to most I encounter at work and in recovery meetings but I don’t feel as old as I am. I have experienced a sense that I am considered an unfathomable enigma, that younger people are afraid to find out about and that they treat with a condescending distance

    Liked by 2 people

    • msw blog says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I am just baffled that the younger generation is afraid to learn, and interact with the elder generation, as we are all head there if were lucky.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m 66. I don’t care to be called “Elderly”, because I am In the same time, it’s me, and the age doesn’t matter. What really matters is the possibility to do whatever I want. And I can, so far

    Liked by 1 person

  4. adguru101 says:

    I think of older friends/family in two categories: “Old/older” for those who are still active, healthy, and engaged in the world. “Elderly” connotes frail. But I suppose once you are 90+ it’s fair to be considered elderly. I won’t mind the term if I get there, LOL!.

    Liked by 1 person

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