Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

There are a plethora of IELTS topics about old age.

This comes up often on both Speaking and Writing.

It’s vital that you have topic-specific vocabulary.

You also need multiple ways to describe the elderly.

This is because you want to avoid repetition for a score of 7+ on Vocabulary.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn all the vocabulary you need for this topic!

Showing respect

It’s important that you’re respectful with your language.

It’s not polite to call the elderly ‘old people.’

We shared details about this in a previous episode that you can check out here.

In that episode, we shared a lot of great vocabulary for this topic.

Biddy vs. bitty

Elderly women are sometimes called, ‘an old biddy.’

This is not a term of endearment.

Sometimes native English speakers use this in jest.

However, you would not want to use it seriously if you want to be respectful.

There is a similar word in English that sounds the same.

  • bitty: slang for a small amount
  • a little bitty bit: a very small amount

This is excellent, informal vocabulary for Speaking Part 1 or Task 1 letters!

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Vocabulary for advancing years

You may need descriptive language for a person’s advancing age.

  • in one’s golden years: to be elderly

The woman was fast approaching her golden years.

You also need vocabulary to describe post-retirement age.

A great phrase for this is, ‘the prime of one’s life.’

This refers to the years after a person retires.

In this time they can travel and spend time with their family.

They no longer have to work!

Therefore, it’s the prime of their life!

How to avoid saying ‘old people’

There is preferable vocabulary to describe someone who is old.

  • elderly
  • senior citizens
  • of advancing years

These are good terms for describing those who are older.

The elderly must be cared for.

All senior citizens should be shown respect.

Those of advancing years are able to travel.

Housing for the elderly

Many IELTS topics relate to housing for those of advancing years.

There are many options you must understand and be able to describe.

retirement homes: a low amount of care

A retirement home is a facility or block of houses where many elderly people retire.

There are usually other individuals of their age to spend time with.

Additionally, there are planned activities.

  • assisted living: a medium amount of care

In assisted living centers, there is a large amount of freedom and independence.

However, medical assistance is readily available.

  • nursing homes: a large amount of care

Those in nursing homes require a lot of medical assistance throughout the day.

Topics for IELTS Speaking

Many topics on Speaking deal with aging.

Part 1 would be more personal questions.

  • What you will do when you are older
  • Where you would like to retire
  • What you like to do with grandparents

Part 2 might ask you to describe an elderly person.

  • Describe a beloved grandparent
  • Describe a retirement facility
  • Describe a party you have thrown (could be for a grandparent)

Part 3 may ask you about treatment of the elderly.

  • Do you think the elderly are shown adequate respect in your country?
  • What do you think societies can do to improve elder care?
  • Do you think health care is affordable for those of advancing years?
  • Should governments improve retirement options for the elderly?

Topics for IELTS Writing

Task 1 letters might ask you to write to or about an elderly person.

These could be informal, semi-formal or formal, depending on the relationship.

  • Informal: a letter to a grandparent
  • Semi-formal: a letter to an elderly neighbor
  • Formal: a letter to a company expressing concern about their policies regarding the elderly


Topics regarding the elderly are extremely common on IELTS.

This could come up on IELTS Speaking or Writing.

You must be prepared with high level, topic-specific vocabulary.

It’s also vital that you think about the topics you might face.

You must be ready to answer any of these questions using less common vocab.

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for our online course.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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