Old People? Elders? Honored Citizens? Which is it?

By: Jacob Taylor

My question

So what I really want to know is: Have I somehow misstepped? If old and elder are out, what am I supposed to call people over 65? Something horribly corny like `people of an advanced age`? I mean sure, I'll call them grandma or grandpa or their name in person, but how am I to refer to them generically?

The backstory

@Aranjedeath @ioerror preferably without calling them old people to their faces. Even if they seem crazy old to you.

— amandabee (@amandabee) July 12, 2012

@Aranjedeath @ioerror old is binary. You are or you aren't. Have had 80, 90 year old friends complain they were called "old";

— amandabee (@amandabee) July 12, 2012

@Aranjedeath But why I "thought it necessary"? B/c I've been called an "elder" (in the kindest terms) and found it utterly disorienting.

— amandabee (@amandabee) July 12, 2012

@amandabee What else am I to refer to them as? I'm not talking about speaking with young people. Or middle aged.

— Jacob Taylor (@Aranjedeath) July 12, 2012

Follow up

I've asked several people about this, and apparently it's because I somehow missed that being "old" is considered a bad thing in this country. I value age and experience, so it didn't even occur to me. It seems like the short answer is "there's no way to refer to the older generation without making someone uncomfortable". The disconnect seems to be rooted in the USA's overvaluation of youth.

I'm still not sure what the respectful way to talk about it is. The "Older Generation" is the least-innacurate phrase I've heard, while still being respectful. It's also a lot of letters to use on political correctness when speaking about things in twitter-length bits. Seems like the term I'll go with in conversation though, where character counts aren't a thing.