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Why words matter when we talk about age

Discrimination on the basis of age is illegal in Australia, but we still see prejudice reflected through the way we use language and communication, according to the executive director of the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), Professor Briony Dow.

“What I have witnessed over the decades is ageism being an all-pervasive problem in our society and it is reflected in language, but also shaped by language,” she said.

As part of the 2021 Ageism Awareness Day, NARI has developed an age positive language guide to offer alternative words and phrases which better portray older people in research and in everyday life.

Instead of lumping together people aged over 65 as "the elderly", for example, Dow recommends that people be specific and consider people's individual characteristics.

Dow joined Aged Care Insite to speak about developing the guide, ageism in academic research, and why we need to think about the way we communicate.

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