Ahead of the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations, 29 April, a group of 13 MEPs has called on their peers to be more respectful towards older persons in their institutional language. Even in recent resolutions of the European Parliament that support older persons’ human rights, such as on the situation of human rights in the world, older persons are collectively named as ‘the elderly’.
In the letter initiated by Slovenian MEP Milan Brglez, the MEPs recall that words have power and that they should be used to create relations and not othering. The use of ‘the elderly’ as a mass noun obscures the individual, their rights, diverse stories, preferences and needs, according to the MEPs. Rather, language should emphasise the contributions to and participation in society. Therefore, the MEPs call for disregarding this term and using ‘older persons’ instead.
The call has been sent to all Members of the European Parliament and has been signed by the following MEPs: Milan Brglez, Klemen Grošelj, Antonius Manders, Marisa Matias, José Gusmão, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Lukas Mandl, Maria Walsh, Ernest Urtasun, Sylwia Spurek, Katrin Langensiepen, Mounir Satouri, Corina Cretu
Read also our short guide to avoid stereotypical communication when talking about ageing and older people