What Does Elderly Mean?

what does elderly mean?

what does "elderly" mean?

What does Elderly mean? This is a great question. If you do an internet or dictionary search you will find at least 10 different answers.

It Depends
Who You Ask

What does Elderly mean? It depends who you ask also.

Ask a 15 year old: Anyone over 40

Ask a 30 year old: Anyone over 60

Ask a 60 year old: Anyone over 80 or 90

Does that sound about right?

Here’s an article from brilio.net that you may find very interesting:

“65 Years Old is Still Young!”

Is Age
Just a Number?

We’ve all heard this one before: “Age is just a number.” Right? Some agree, some do not. It depends who’s saying it. Right?

But, is it?

what does elderly mean? #2

I have an acquaintance. A medical doctor. He’s 63. He’s terribly out of shape. Tired all the time. Feeling too exhausted to continue his practice and he is retiring in 2 months. At just 63 he’s worn himself out.

On the other hand, my previous dentist retired at 81. He was slim. Fit. And, doing the carpentry on the second floor of his new house, BY HIMSELF.

Which one is old?

Which one is Elderly?

So, what does elderly mean really?

What Does Being Elderly Mean?

Being Elderly and Being Old seem to be two different things. The old 63 year old doctor I just described was “old”. Tired. Worn out. The energetic 81 year old dentist, he was merely elderly.

What does elderly mean? About 100 years ago it was the very polite term used when speaking about an old person. Any old person.

And, old then, usually meant 60+.

HOWEVER, life expectancy back then was 53.6 years for men and 54.6 years for women.

Yes, Age
Is The Main Factor

When we ask, “What does elderly mean?”, yes, age is definitely the main factor. But, age is not the only factor.

No matter what, 15 year olds will never be considered elderly. Or, seniors. Nor will someone who is 25, 35, or 45. 60, maybe is a starting point for “seniors”.

Elderly and Seniors used to be used rather interchangeably. They are not the same.

“Elderly” as opposed to “Seniors” connotes a certain oldness. A frailness that comes with advanced age.

what does elderly mean? #3

When Does This Frailness Begin?

We asked around to lots of people to find out what every day people thought about this.

We found that 70 years old seems to be the age where most people think getting frail is very noticeable. Where we’re not just seniors. Where we’re not just older, but, Elderly.

What does elderly mean then? To most people we talked to, it meant more than just being seniors in age. It meant advanced age with noticeable delicacy caused by physical and/or mental degeneration.

We All Age Differently

For some people this frailness may begin in their late 50s. For others, it may not be noticeable until somewhere in their 80s or even 90. We’re all different. We all wear out at out own pace.

I’m sure you all have met a senior or two in their early 60s who is just plain worn out, weak, frail, and ready to depart this world.

And, we’ve all seen the 90 year olds on the news who are leading exercise classes and running marathons (another thing I never did or ever will attempt).

Barring some major disease, 70 seems to be considered the beginning Elderly mark these days.

In today’s world, what does elderly mean? Here is an interesting article you may enjoy from Forbes Magazine:

“Is 75 The New 65? How The Definition Of Aging Is Changing”

What Does Elderly Mean
to You?

Here are two entirely different viewpoints on this word:

#1)   My sister is 71. One of her greatest fears is to be considered Elderly. To her that means your looks are completely gone, your ability is minimal, and one foot is already approaching the grave. She makes me laugh!

#2)   A dear friend I have named Louise is 70 and she always refers to herself as elderly. She’s been doing this for at least 10 years now. She LOVES using the word! Especially when she wants someone to do something for her…. She’s a very shrewd cookie indeed!

“What does elderly mean?” To most people we asked, it seems to have the meaning that a person has reached an advanced age, above being just seniors.

what does elderly mean to you?

Do We Become

That whole concept is horrifying! But, all too common.

Very unfortunately, to many people “elderly” also often means you reached an age where you are no longer part of the main stream of society. Relics. Antiques. Museum pieces. Undesirable. Obsolete….


A few of my favorite people to hang out with are 75+. And, they are some of the most Interesting, Fun, Joyful, Compassionate people I have been Blessed to be given as friends.

A couple of those friends are still two of the very best teachers I have. They are always giving me some piece of valuable information.

I’m sure we all have people like this in our lives, or, at least, who have crossed our paths.

Then, on the other hand, how often have we heard things like this:

“Oh, Joan can’t help with the picnic. She’s a bit too elderly.” etc… etc…. Right?

Well, this can be true. Maybe Joan can’t bake anymore, or, do any of the heavy lifting. But, her company is often priceless. She’s not useless and definitely not undesirable at all.

Elderly does not mean: Senile, Demented, a burden…. It means advanced in age and a bit more fragile, and, more wise than most.

It’s a State of Being
or, a Feeling

“In the end, ‘elderly’ may be more a state of being

— or feeling — than a certain age.”

reference: npr.org

"Old" comes to different people at different times.

At the age of 75, the famous physical trainer Jack LaLanne was still pulling tug boats across the river while he swam with hand cuffs on. At 80 he was doing pushups on his finger tips. (I could never do either of these things.) Yes, by 90 he looked old…. Well, of course he did! He was 90 God Bless Him!

On the other hand, at 55 my mother’s dear friend Abby was walking with crutches because her joints hurt too much. She was haggard and exhausted from the pain and looked dreadful. Yet, no one called her elderly. She was disabled. She called herself “old”.

Old Age Is a Gift!
NOT a Curse

what does elderly mean? #6

What does elderly mean?

It is not just a number.

We found most people think it’s a person of advanced years, anywhere over 60, who is at least somewhat frail. Or, anybody over 80 no matter how physically fit they may be. Does that sound right to you?

Elderly is a state of being
more than a number.

Yes, it requires a certain amount of years lived. A 30, 40 or 50 year old who is in massive physical decay is not referred to as elderly. He/she is referred to as disabled. Right?

But, a man or woman over 80, no matter how physically fit and mentally able, is still going to be described as an elderly person. Am I right?

Consider Being Called Elderly
a Compliment!

Yes, at a certain point in time, no matter how able or unable we are, we are going to be elderly.

What does elderly mean? Consider it a compliment. Not every one gets that far in life.

Getting so far in life is a gift! A real gift! Especially if your health is decent.

Not everyone gets the gift of old age.

Yes, advanced age comes with some new challenges. Sure. But, waking each morning to a new day 70, 80, or 90 years down the road? How great is that?!


what does elderly mean? #4

As a group, we believe “Seniors” are still much more physically and mentally active than most of the “Elderly”. Yes, of course, there are exceptions on both sides.

The elderly are our most senior seniors. Usually a bit more delicate and a bit less able physically than the younger seniors.

We want to make the distinction here for just one reason:

At weloveoutgranny.com, when we are writing an article on say exercise, crafts, or dancing…. we want to give appropriate types of information. Information that is useable for both age groups.

So, we will be considering 60+ to be seniors. 75+ to be elderly.

Yes, there are many 75 year olds who are way more fit and able than a whole lot of 65 or even 45 year olds.

But, we wanted to define, in at least general terms and meaning, what those two categories are and how we will write articles tailored especially for each group.

This way we can correctly relate things like exercise programs for seniors, exercise for the elderly, helpful devices, crafts, and things to do, in a generally appropriate way.


What does elderly mean?

  • It is not an insult. It is a badge of merit.

  • Reaching advanced age is an accomplishment. An achievement to be proud of.

  • Yes, we get more fragile with advanced age. And, that’s OK.

what does elderly mean? #5

Even at difficult moments,

Always Remember:  Our elderly, even if they have become quite weak and can’t remember everything very well, are the ones who cared for us when we were too young to take care of ourselves. The ones who passes on all wisdom to us. The ones who helped us become who we are today.

And, if we are lucky, we will become elderly also.

“What does elderly mean?

It means you deserve the most precious love and special care.

And, that is what this website is here to help you get.”

~ William

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