Monday, February 21, 2011

Please don’t use the E word

Are you as appalled as I am when you read a newspaper story like this? Not a real one—just representative:

“An elderly woman was injured yesterday afternoon when a dazed driver lost control of his car and drove up onto the sidewalk. The victim, Rosemary D. Jones, 65, is in critical condition….”

Sure, I feel sorry for poor Rosemary. But do they have to call her “elderly”? Isn’t that literally adding insult to injury?

And why is it that when reading only the first sentence, I picture someone like my Grandma (may she rest in peace)? I cannot fathom that this elderly person who met an unfortunate fate is actually my age or younger!

Are we elderly? Can’t we wait until we’re in our 80s for that adjective? Or will we bristle at that description in our 80s too? Maybe then we’ll think that elderly should apply only to those over 95. And at 95? I think we’ll have more important things to worry about than how the world of journalism describes us.

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