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USING `ELDERLY’ - IS IT BIAS OR A DESCRIPTION?

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DEAR ABBY: Why do the news media report that someone is "elderly" when age has absolutely nothing to do with the news item? Example:

On television: "Hotel fire in Miami claimed many lives. Most were elderly."In the newspaper: "A house at such-and-such an address is on display for its artistic decorations. It is owned by an elderly woman."

Abby, are elderly people different or less valued than other humans? Talk about discrimination! Elderly people pay taxes, spend money to keep the economy going and make doctors richer. So, does being elderly make them less of a citizen?

I suggest that the media just report the news and leave out the word "elderly." What do you think? - OFFENDED

DEAR OFFENDED: Sorry you're offended; there's no need to be. Describing someone as "elderly" is not intended as an insult or put-down. It merely gives the reader more information about the person referred to in the news item. And in some cases, were it not for the age, it wouldn't be newsworthy. Example: "15-year-old girl to wed elderly man." The story went on to say that the groom was 78 years old. A news item simply stating that a 15-year-old girl was getting married would not have been newsworthy.

DEAR ABBY: For four years, I was in love with a married man. He's very handsome, well-to-do and a wonderful lover. I was single, and still am. We had to sneak around to see each other because if his wife caught him, she'd take him to the cleaners. Their marriage was in bad shape when I met him, so it's not as though I broke up his home. I can't count the times he moved out after a fight. But he always went back. "Money" or "the kids" were his reasons.

Well, she finally gave him a divorce. I thought, "Hooray, now we don't have to sneak around anymore." Wrong! He still says it's not wise for us to be seen together in public.

Why? He's not married anymore. Abby, I can't understand this. He doesn't give me a reason; he says, "It's better if we're not seen together in public."

When I mention marriage, he says, "It's too soon." Abby, I love him and have never looked at another man since he came into my life.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? - BAFFLED IN BALTIMORE

DEAR BAFFLED: I'd run as if the devil was after me - then I'd start to wonder who the other woman was.

DEAR ABBY: I am a young man about to get married for a second time. (My first wife and I were divorced.)

My question: Can I use the same wedding ring twice? The ring belonged to my mother, who passed away. My father gave it to me, and I used it for my first marriage. After the divorce, she gave it back to me.

My ex-wife and my fiance are good friends. Please advise. - WEDDING RING

DEAR WEDDING RING: It's more than just a wedding "ring" - it's a family heirloom. Tell your fiance the history of the ring, and ask her how she feels about it. The decision should be hers.