Recently a LinkedIn colleague forwarded an editorial titled "Supporting the Elderly" from the Global Action on Aging office (globalaging.org), and something really interesting jumped out at me. The term "the elderly" has always bothered me because it lumps older adults into a catagory that carries lots of negative baggage. This article illustrates what I mean. When the author spoke of young people who needed assistance he didn't lump them into a catagory but instead referred to them as "individuals facing difficulties" – key word here – individuals.
Also, I noticed when the author started talking about how Boomers could use their skills and expertice to contribute to the community his language changed. He used the phrase "respect elders" not respect "the elderly". This article provides a great case for getting rid of the phrase "the elderly". If a person wants to convey older adults with special needs, then say elders in need (if you need the age reference at all).