Tags: Coronavirus | boomers | virus spread | cdc | seniors

Boomers Resist 'Elderly' Label in Face of Coronavirus Spread

Silhouette profiles of young girl and senior adult is shown
 (Ikon Images via AP Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:00 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that there is an increased risk from the coronavirus for people over the age of 60. But, The Wall Street Journal reports, CDC communications never refer to the “elderly,” a term that has some seniors bristling.

“I’m vaguely hostile to the world elderly,” says Thomas Cole, 70, a gerontologist and author of “Old Man Country: My Search for Meaning Among the Elders. “We live in an ageist culture and we have negative associations with words and images of old people.”

Cole adds that the American Geriatrics Society has stopped using the word elderly. “If you send them a manuscript and you see elderly, they cross it out and substitute older,” he says.

According to NPR.org, elderly is an old adjective dating back hundreds of years. It comes from an even older noun, elder, which the Oxford English Dictionary traces to the 10th century and defines as “in a wider sense, a predecessor, one who lived in former days.

Today, the term is offensive to many.

“Elderly often carries the connotation of feeble and dependent,” says Michael Vuolo, co-host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley Podcast, according to NPR. “Which is offensive if you are not and condescendingly euphemistic if you are.”

Randi Danforth, a publications director at the University of California, told the Journal she planned to fly and visit her daughter in the near future, despite the warnings about the increase risk to her age category.

“Our children are worried about us because we happen to fall into that weird age category that we don’t think we are in — elderly,” she says. “The realm of the elder.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that there is an increased risk from the coronavirus for people over the age of 60. But, The Wall Street Journal reports, CDC communications never refer to the “elderly,” a term that has some seniors bristling.
boomers, virus spread, cdc, seniors
276
2020-00-18
Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:00 AM
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