Trucil, D.E., Lundebjerg, N.E. and Busso, D.S. (2021), When It Comes to Older Adults, Language Matters and Is Changing: American Geriatrics Society Update on Reframing Aging Style Changes. J Am Geriatr Soc, 69: 265-267. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16848
In June 2017, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) adopted the American Medical Association Manual of Style including qualified recommendations for the language used to describe older people. Based on American Geriatrics Society (AGS) work with the Leaders of Aging Organizations and the FrameWorks Institute, these recommendations were grounded in building better public perceptions of aging.1 They reinforced “that words like (the) aged, elder(s), (the) elderly, and seniors should not be used . . . because [they] connote discrimination and certain negative stereotypes.”1 The journal thus adopted “older adult(s)” and “older person/people” as preferred terminology, explicitly advocating against using “the elderly,” “senior(s),” and/or “senior citizen(s).”1
In the time since this transition, JAGS has published more than 5,000 pages of scholarly output, and many leading influencers in research have adopted our recommendations as their own.2 The AGS sought to determine how these recommendations impacted word choice across a variety of forums.