7 reasons why doctors should scrap the word 'elderly'

The word is like 'imbecile' or 'idiot' and is anachronistic and offensive, says professor

The word 'elderly' should not be used in medicine, argues Professor Javad Hekmat-panah, a neurologist and neurosurgeon based at the University of Chicago in the US.

Writing a blog for the BMJ, he gives seven reasons why the word should be thrown out.

  1. It’s vague. Does it mean people over 65, over 70, retired people or some other group?
  2. It conjures up bias in the mind of the listener, which can do harm.
  3. It’s out-of-date and rude. "I’d argue that the word ‘elderly’ is like ‘imbecile’ or ‘idiot’, which have become anachronistic and offensive.”
  4. It confounds being older with being ill, which is not necessarily the case.
  5. It lumps together people with ages spanning several decades — something we would not do for other parts of the life-span.
  6. It can lead to people not getting access to treatment, or even healthcare rationing, which is against human