Overall, the number of elder people (aged over 60) has increased significantly.
You are unlikely to find elder used to modify a noun like people. In this case older would be much more likely:
This example provides us with a good opportunity to explore the differences between as well as the uses of older, elder, and elderly!
These are people are among the older members of a community. They demand our respect not only because of their age, but also because they are often appointed to positions of authority within a community.
US soldiers meeting with village elders
Elders help communities to make important decisions and negotiate with outsiders when necessary.
Elders may not be old in terms of age. Rather they are relatively old, and therefore command respect, even if they are not in a position of authority.
A boy helped with his reading by one of his elders
Notice that when elder is a noun it is nearly always plural!
Here we are often referring to older family members, although even then older is now more common than elder.
Other nouns (people) are more likely to be modified using older rather than elder, as we have already discussed with reference to our opening example (above).
Almost anybody or anything can be described as older, as long as we are talking about the opposite of newer and of younger!
Elderly people are quite old. They are probably no longer working. They like to spend time with their grandchildren. They may be experiencing ill health and they may be forgetful. They may need help getting around. They are probably older than 75.
An elderly couple
Just as we refer to groups in society using the – the rich, the poor, the employed, the unemployed, etc., elderly people are also often referred to as the elderly.
Now check to see how much you have understood!
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