How Old Is Elderly??

                                                   How Do We Define Elderly?
I always kiddingly tell my husband, Charlie that someone is getting old when they are at least 15 years older than me!  A recent column in the Chicago Tribune muses over when to consider someone elderly!  We all know that many people are fortunate today to live a lot longer than prior generations. So, now the conundrum is when do we consider someone elderly?
For me, its when someone is forced into using a walker from having a stroke or a fall, losing their eyesight or becoming totally dependent on others.  How you determine the age if elderly is sometimes based own your own age.  For me, I laughingly recall being 21 and thinking someone aged 30 was old!
The columnist, Mary Schmich, googled the word ‘elderly’ and came up with these definitions:
“old, mature, senior, hoary, ancient, senescent, advance in years, in ones dotage, long in the tooth, as old as the hills, past ones prime, getting on, over the hill, and no spring chicken”.
The old adage, ‘sticks and stones…’ comes to mind, except these words to describe the aging person can be used in a way to bias a person’s feeling towards someone.
I am glad to know that the AP Stylebook tells writers that the term ‘elderly’ “should be used carefully and sparingly”. More importantly, just use an age, not a term when describing an individual.. Great advice, since we all age differently.  There are people who are a young 70 and an old 70.
Some, refer to the elderly phase as being in the sunset of their life.  Yes, things start to dim as we grow older, but detaching ourselves from ageist terms like ‘elderly’ can make this passage much more fun and easy to navigate!

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