Changing the Narrative Colorado (https://changingthenarrativeco.org/) combats ageism by trying to change how people think, talk, and act about aging.
Its guidelines (https://changingthenarrativeco.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Guidelines-for-Age-Inclusive-Communications_ChangingtheNarrative-1.pdf) for journalists about avoiding ageist terms are relevant to your business.
When communicating with and about older adults in conversations and marketing materials, choose words and images carefully.
Here are six considerations.
- Avoid ageist words like elderly and the aged and the stereotypes grandmotherly or grandfatherly.
- Don’t describe all older adults as frail, weak, or vulnerable.
- Watch for positive ageism, including terms like “X years young,” “old and wise,” and “young at heart.”
- Avoid images like clasped, wrinkly hands and lone figures on park benches – stereotypes of decline, depression, and dependence.
- Avoid using “still” in front of verbs. Saying “still working” or “still riding a bike” suggests that what someone is doing is remarkable, even when many in the age group ride bikes and work.
- Watch for “compassionate ageism.” Portraying older adults as vulnerable or needing protection is paternalistic and often unwelcome.