“Descriptive terms for older people: older is in and elderly is out” – GeriPal


“Never be the first to use a new descriptive term for older people nor the last to give up an old one.” 

“This is the advice given by Laura Morrison and colleagues in the discussion section of a fascinating new study published in JAGS this week.  The authors looked at how ‘older people’ are described in the English-language medical literature from 1950 to 2015. Specifically they looked at the use of the terms ‘geriatric,’ ‘aged,’ ‘old,’ ‘older,’ and ‘elderly’ in Pubmed.

“Here is what they found:

  • We liked using the term ‘aged’ in publications before 1961, but ‘aged’ quickly lost its appeal over the next decade.
  • ‘Geriatric’ became more common from 1955 to 1976 but again fell out of favor over the last couple decades
  • ‘Elderly’ peaked around the time of George Michael’s release of ‘Father Figure’ (I’m not sure if there was a connection between the two)
  • ‘Older’ hit its low point in 1962 but boomed in use with the boomers, and is now our most popular term accounting for 55% of references”

Continue reading this article at GeriPal, click here.

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