Letter to the Editor: Inappropriate language diminishes older people

Letter to the Editor: Inappropriate language diminishes older people
"We ask that those in a position to shape the narrative of older people’s experiences in our media do so carefully."

We are specialists (signed by more than 150 people) spanning fields of nursing, public health, health systems, medicine, health and social care professionals, social policy, advocacy and NGO organisations.

We write to express our utmost concern over recent examples of the inappropriate use of language by some media outlets in their reporting of the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

We ask that those in a position to shape the narrative of older people’s experiences in our media do so carefully.

Terms such as “elderly”, “seniors”, “pensioners”, “elders” and “OAPs” are considered stereotypical, ageist and disrespectful. 

One national newspaper used the term “nappies” to describe continence management whilst a journalist on RTÉ news made reference to older people “dropping like flies” both which are particularly unacceptable and upsetting. 

The overuse of the phrase “underlying condition” diminishes the lives and deaths of people who die from Covid-19. It also contributes to a creeping narrative that some lives are more expendable than others.

We acknowledge and thank you all for the work you have done in reporting the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland. 

We hope that this letter will encourage further action and ask in particular that you revise your editorial guidelines to ensure more inclusive language.

Dr Éidín Ní Shé

UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems

University College Dublin

- This readers’ opinion will be published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner on April 24, 2020.

More on this topic

Letter to the Editor: Not everyone can manage business affairs onlineLetter to the Editor: Not everyone can manage business affairs online

Kids become penpals of care home residentsKids become penpals of care home residents

Ruth Doris: Tech firm using TV sets to care for older peopleRuth Doris: Tech firm using TV sets to care for older people

Advocates say people must be more prepared for when they fall ill or frailAdvocates say people must be more prepared for when they fall ill or frail

More in this Section

Colm O'Regan: I love a straight bit of roadColm O'Regan: I love a straight bit of road

Suzanne Harrington: Assault course must be completed before start of intense gardeningSuzanne Harrington: Assault course must be completed before start of intense gardening

Irish Examiner View: Brendan BowyerIrish Examiner View: Brendan Bowyer

Irish Examiner View: America’s unresolved problems continueIrish Examiner View: America’s unresolved problems continue


Lifestyle

Even in the drug-filled, debauched annals of the rock and roll memoir, Mark Lanegan's Sing Backwards And Weep stands out.Mark Lanegan: Drugs, Liam Gallagher and me

Donal Dineen was the man who first brought David Gray and many other emerging artists to our ears. He’s had a lower profile in recent years, but has returned with a new podcast, writes Eoghan O’SullivanDonal Dineen: Pushing the buttons on a new podcast

Is there are science to back up some of the folklore we have grown up with?Appliance of Science: If a cow sits down does that mean it will rain?

This time last year Whiddy Island in West Cork was bustling with people who had caught the ferry for the short trip from Bantry to ramble the island’s boreens as part of the Bantry Walking Festival. Not so this year.Islands of Ireland: Whiddy in the same boat

More From The Irish Examiner