IGS Media Release. Watch your Language!

Media Release         

Researchers advised  'watch your language' when describing older citizens

Social and health researchers and workers have been advised to use terms like ‘older people’ rather than ‘the elderly, ‘the aged, ‘old age pensioners’ or ‘seniors’ when referring or writing about citizens in their late 60s, 70, 80s or 90s.

The President of the Irish Gerontological Society (IGS), Mo Flynn reminded society members this weekend that “best practice is to follow the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines which have been adopted by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS).”

“ Increasingly policy-makers, planners and health and social researchers are examining how we can and do enjoy the later years of life. How we refer to older people is important so that we do not exclude a growing proportion of our population as ‘the elderly’, ‘senile’ or ‘aged ’ with implications of incapacity. “Such terms often connote discrimination and certain negative stereotypes that may undercut research-based recommendations for better serving our needs as we age, While names and characterisations may vary, the message is the same: older men and women are incompetent and lack sufficiency,,” Ms Flynn said.

The IGS advised its 350 members about the best choice of terms to describe ‘older people’ when writing research reports and articles . This advice is the culmination of many years of advocacy for change in how we represent older people in the media and in research.

Her comments came as the Citizen Assembly this weekend began consideration of the second topic assigned by the Houses of the Oireachtas - "How we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population".

IGS vice-president, Dr Diarmuid O'Shea, will address the Assembly gathering. He has been the Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Programme for Older People in the HSE since the inception of the clinical programmes in 2010.

"Having more people enjoying their active and healthier older years is very positive and should not be debased with terms like ‘a tsunami of elderly’ or a ‘pensions time-bomb going-off’", Ms Flynn added.

For comment or further information, please contact:

Ms Mo Flynn, President Irish Gerontological Society

M:  086 604 0308.

E: president@irishgerontology.com

Friday, 9th June 2017