Americans think of older generations as "the elderly," but people in other countries honor their forebears by calling them simply "elders." Here's how other cultures view their seniors.
In the Muslim world, nursing homes for older people are virtually unheard of. Caring for one's parents during their advanced years is considered an honor and a blessing.
Hispanic cultures revere elder family members. Elders tend to live with their children and often their grandchildren, and therefore have a chance to pass down family history and act as role models for younger family members.
Native American elders are known as "wisdomkeepers" and are thought to have a close connection to the spiritual and natural worlds. These elders act as caretakers of the planet, taking at least seven generations into account before doing something that could harm the environment.
In Africa, elders are respected for their decades of life experience and practical wisdom. African elders are seen as trustworthy mediators between deceased ancestors and the living family group.
Sources: www.discoverislam.com; http://iml.umkc.edu/casww/hispanic.htm; From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller (Warner Books, 1995).