Langues & languages

The Fountain of Youth?

Lately, magazines have been claiming such things as “90 is the new 60!” In some cases, that might be true. You hear about 96-year-olds who do very well after surgery. The 88-year-old Queen is still fulfilling her official duties. Consequently, it’s time to review our use of the word elderly. Elderly is defined in several major English dictionaries as someone who is “rather old” or “past middle age”. Middle age means about 40 to 60 years old according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Most people would be mortified to be described as an “elderly 65-year old”. It is perhaps time to change the definition of elderly to someone who is “very old”, without specifying an age range. Even my 84-year-old mother refers to herself as a senior—she’s not ready to be described as elderly yet. We also see the term frail elderly (personne âgée fragile), which should be used with caution because it refers to both the people’s state of health and age.

By Barbara McClintock, Certified Translator

Source of the image: painting by Eduard Veith

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