How to avoid stereotypical communication when talking about ageing and older people

Wrong language or images can easily convey a stereotypical idea of older people. This sheet gives concrete communication tips that can make a huge difference in the way we talk about ageing and older age. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need support: 



Inspiration: (c) FrameWorks Institute. 2017. Quick Start Guide. Washington, DC.
*Additional versions of this short guide can be developed for other languages at a later stage


  • Prefer people's faces rather than a body part (back, wrinkled hands) – it helps representing older people as persons with emotions and thoughts
  • Reflect the diversity of older people in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, ability...
  • Avoid pictures of hunched-over person – although many older people are living with a disability, disability can take various forms and not only be physical
  • Prefer group pictures instead of lonely older people – if you aim at intergenerational gatherines, make sure you consider alternatives to family gathering as more and more older people are also now ageing without children
  • Prefer active representations of older people – older people do much more in their daily life and in their community than sitting and contemplating the landscape
  • Prefer coloured pictures instead of black and white or sepia

Interested in going further?

Check our guidelines to adopt a rights-based approach to ageing
Check the World Health Organisation's guide to avoid ageism in communication


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The contents of the articles are the sole responsibility of AGE Platform Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.