Over 60s are regularly patronised by younger generations with name calling like ‘geriatric’ and ‘over the hill’ among the most frequent insults, says study
- Elderly were asked by u3a charity to report the most demeaning terms they hear
- As much as 63 per cent said that they had been called insulting names in public
- They also said that they were commonplace on TV, on social media and by family
- Being called geriatric topped list, with past it and fuddy duddy making top three
Over 60s are regularly patronised by younger generations with name calling such as ‘geriatric’ and ‘over the hill’ among the most frequent insults, a study has said.
Older people were asked by a charity to report the most demeaning terms they have had directed at them.
Research by u3a – University of the Third Age – found older people are often insulted in person, with 63 per cent saying they had been called these names in public.
But they also reported them as being commonplace in TV programmes (65 per cent), social media (33 per cent) and used by members of their family (21 per cent).
Being called ‘geriatric’ topped the list with ‘past it’ and ‘fuddy duddy’ also making the top three.
Older people were asked by a charity to report the most demeaning terms they have had directed at them (file photo)
Over 1,000 people aged 60 and over responded to a request by u3a to submit the most demeaning terms they have had directed at them.
U3a also quizzed the wider public and discovered more than half of them (53 per cent) admit using words which older people see as patronising.
What are the most patronising terms for elderly people and what percentage of them find the words offensive?
- Geriatric 65 per cent
- Past it 63 per cent
- Fuddy duddy 58 per cent
- Over the hill 57 per cent
- Fogey 55 per cent
- Crone 55 per cent
- Old dear 53 per cent
- Codger 50 per cent
- Biddy 50 per cent
- Fossil 47 per cent
A third (31 per cent) confess to using ‘fogey’ about an older person, while over a quarter (27 per cent) have used ‘biddy’ and 18 per cent said they’d described them as ‘past it’.
A fifth of Britons admitted to calling someone grandpa or grandma, despite not being related to them.
But it seems many in younger generations simply don’t view the terms as insults.
They say they use them as ‘it’s just banter’ (43 per cent), ‘to be friendly’ (38 per cent) or simply because ‘it’s widely used language’ (35 per cent).
Many older Britons who took part in the research said they do not feel old enough to have the terms thrown at them (41 per cent) and almost a third (28 per cent) described them as outdated.
The poll showed the most common reason for disliking such sayings is because ‘they are not an accurate representation of older people today’ (69 per cent).
Those surveyed were also invited to share their stories of patronising language.
One woman told researchers: ‘I hate being called ‘young lady’ when I am 86 years old!’
Another said: ‘In a shop I was addressed by an assistant who asked ‘How are we doing so far today?’ as if I were lucky to have made it to midday.’
U3a, which has over 450,000 members, is now asking the public to think twice about the language they use towards older people and help build a more inclusive society.
Sam Mauger, CEO of the u3a movement, said: ‘Our members are vibrant, young at heart and have much to offer. They are not the stereotypes represented by these words.
‘This absolutely isn’t about placing blame; it’s about highlighting how our language can inadvertently serve to exclude people.
‘We want to challenge the preconceptions around ageing. Our members want to achieve in life, be active and keep experiencing new things.’
Founded in 1982, u3a is a UK-wide movement of locally run interest groups that provide a wide range of opportunities to come together to learn for fun.