Wick Communications

Old is in the cataracts of the beholder

In Writing on 11 May 2012 at 8:30 am

Have you ever heard of Elderhostel? It was a program that brought together senior citizens for travel and cultural exchange. Folks would take courses and travel about and learn things together.

Today they mostly call it “Road Scholar.” That’s because us Baby Boomers don’t fancy being associated with “elder” anything.

I mention all this because we committed a little “elder” abuse at the Half Moon Bay Review the other day. And boy did we hear about it. Review reporter Mark Noack (who, by the way, does too much right to cram into 100 snarky Kicker posts) referred to a 66-year-old attempted murder suspect as “elderly.”

Yikes, said the rapidly aging editor.

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, we were told to use “elderly” only when the subject was over the age of 80. That seems pretty arbitrary to me now. The AP stylebook seems to indicate it’s best used in more general terms, such as in “health care for the elderly” and so on.

Before all this gets old (Oh, I crack myself up), may I recommend this blog post on the difference between “older” and “elder?”



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