older adultsLast updated
If necessary to mention age, “older adults” or “older individuals” are straightforward descriptors of the people the terms apply to. Terms like “elderly” can connote mental or physical fragility and may not match how someone identifies. Specifying ages or ranges is clearer than more euphemistic terms like “aging,” “elder,” and “senior” or “senior citizen.” If using those terms, it is helpful to also provide a definition. The Census Bureau, for instance, defines a senior citizen as someone 65 or older; Social Security benefits can begin to accrue at age 62 in some cases.
Similarly, terms like “young adult” and “middle age” are subjective. Defining an age range for them may be helpful as well.
- Age (American Psychological Association)
- The term “elderly” must be avoided in medicine (News-Medical)
- When Does Someone Become ‘Old’? (Atlantic)
- Ageist Language that Should Change (AARP)
Older adults may be a preferable term over “elderly” or “aging,” as not all those who could be described that way may identify with those terms. Specifying ages or ranges is clearer than more euphemistic terms like “aging,” “elder,” and “senior” or “senior citizen.”