Any attitude, action, or institutional structure, which subordinates a person or group because of age or any assignment of roles in society purely on the basis of age.


Refer to a ‘gran’ or ‘granddad’ only if the person’s role as a grandparent central to the piece.


Use ‘pensioner’ (not ‘OAP’) only when you are referring to pensions.

Senior Citizen

Preferred term in Ireland to refer to those over 65.

Recommendations & links

Recommendations concerning sources

Older citizens are still citizens and their opinions should be heard.

Content recommendations

  • A person’s age should be mentioned only if strictly relevant. Journalists should neither originate nor process material which encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred on these grounds.
  • Don’t portray old age as necessarily a time of dependency and limitation.
  • Do highlight poor treatment of vulnerable older people in health, social and community care settings.

Ethical recommendations

  • Do avoid offensive and undermining stereotyping of older people, portraying older people as silly, inept, doddery... Look beyond the stereotype.
  • Do not infantilise the elderly taking for granted that language or difficulties of expression caused by age are an expression of a lower cultural or intellectual level.
  • Protect the image of older people in situations of dependency (people with cognitive impairment or dementia): 1. guarantee the authorisation of the use of images (both from the families and, where appropriate, from those responsible for the services); 2. preserve the people’s privacy.
  • Avoid biased, alarmist, pitiful, morbid or infantilising treatments for the elderly with disabilities.

Systemic recommendations

Create spaces of historical memory, rescuing memories and events from oblivion, or preventing them from being forgotten such as the history of a people, its language, popular sayings, labour and economic activities, social customs, past political regimes, the conflicts suffered, in short , everything that constitutes the daily life of a community and its people.


National Union of Journalists: NUJ guidelines on reporting age

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