The vocabulary used in conjunction with old age – words and phrases like “senior citizens”, “dementia”, “bedridden”, “Alzheimer’s” and so on – is approximative, simplistic, and sometimes even inappropriate. Who or what is to blame? Semantic shortcuts, changing medical terminology, and poor choices of wording have all played a part.
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This realisation has led the Korian Foundation to conduct research into the semantic fields used to talk about elderly people and to investigate what more suitable terms can be used in order to assign more positive values to old age and to ensure ill-thought-out vocabulary does not unnecessarily complicate matters.
The outcome of this is a practical guide by the Korian Foundation. It lists words to be avoided and alternatives to be adopted so as to discuss old age, dependency, disease, and nursing homes in more positive terms.
The guide ‘Ageing Well: the Right Words’ seeks to raise awareness of this issue and to persuade healthcare professionals, local government, and French society as a whole that there is everything to be gained by changing our outlook on ageing and how we talk about it.