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by Abigail Van Buren

'Elderly' Need Not Apply to Those Young at Heart

DEAR READERS: The many responses I received to the question, "How would you define the term 'elderly'?" were wonderful. Permit me to share a few:

DEAR ABBY: I have a definition that has served me well most of my life: Anyone is elderly who is older than I am.

This was confirmed when I heard my dad, who was 84 and in a convalescent home, speak of the "old codger who lives down the hall." He was 87. -- CARL FISHER (AGE 82), WALNUT CREEK, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: I am 79 and just beginning to think of myself as "elderly." Fifty, to me, is middle age. -- DOROTHY KENT, HENDERSON, NEV.

DEAR ABBY: I am 52 years old and consider the term "elderly" as being a synonym for dead! -- JANE ANDERSON, CINCINNATI

DEAR ABBY: How would I define elderly? I am reminded of the old joke that went, "I enjoy drinking; HE'S a drunk." I'm an older woman; SHE'S elderly! -- BEA SHAW, TOLUCA LAKE, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: I don't know a great deal about how ladies view themselves, but to me they are forever young. However, I do know a little about men.

By my reckoning, until age 35, he is an adolescent.

From 35 to 55, he is a young man.

From 55 to 75, he is middle-aged, and anyone who is 75 or older is a senior. -- TOM DANAHER (AGE 71), LAS VEGAS

DEAR ABBY: When you ask someone to define "elderly," you open a can of worms. It is my belief that few people think of themselves as a specific age.

Society seems to want to label each of its members by age, race, religion, etc. Let's forget all that and just live. Elderly is as elderly does. Enjoy life and, as the French say, "Vive la difference!" -- ROBERT L. CASEY, LAS VEGAS

DEAR ABBY: I am 76 and don't consider myself elderly. When I curl my hair, which is naturally a blondish-gray, I have my makeup on, my nails nicely manicured and I'm dressed in a nice outfit, I don't feel or look a day over 55. So I think, "If I were't married, I'd be looking for a live one."

I define elderly as "over the hill." -- STILL KICKING AND ABLE

DEAR ABBY: Being elderly to me is having the dignity to grow older with dignity. -- PEGGY O'NEIL, PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR ABBY: Most of us associate "elderly" with those who are older than we are, who have become incapacitated physically or mentally. People our own age may be "senior citizens" -- but NEVER elderly! -- MARION E. GRAFF, LOS ANGELES

DEAR ABBY: "Elderly" is a politically correct euphemism for "old." What's wrong with being old? I am an aging boomer and I want to be as old as possible.

In this baby- and youth-obsessed culture of ours, it's time to shout, "Old is great!" -- MICHAEL PEARCE, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR MICHAEL AND READERS: I'll second the motion.

I regret that I am unable to print all of the delightful definitions I've received for "elderly"; however, from time to time, I will share more of them.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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