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7 “Old People Sayings” That Would Be Hip to Say Today

“Young people can say some of the darndest things,” so says Grampa and Gramma. They certainly wouldn’t appreciate it if you “spill the tea.” But you may have heard a few odd things that don’t always make sense today, in 2023, that they have said over the years.

An older grandparent spending time with a grandchild. Talking together on the grass.

So if you’re looking for some fresh and quirky expressions to add to your vocabulary, it turns out that some of the coolest and most timeless sayings have been passed down from our elders.

From amusing idioms to wise adages, there’s a treasure trove of old-people sayings just waiting to be discovered. Even if they are new to you, here are seven phrases or funny sayings that are blasts from the past you can get a chuckle out of.

And after you’ve had a good laugh, keep reading to learn crucial insights on distinguishing between your loved one’s harmless humor and worrisome signs of memory loss.

Old people’s sayings are a long-standing tradition in our culture and provide us with quotes and wisdom that are still relevant in modern times. These saying understand basic life success and what it takes to make it in business, careers, and family life.

An older man looks angry | old people sayings

Don’t Flip Your Wig

Your mother might “flip her wig” if she sees a mess in her house. You can use this older familiar phrase in a playful tone to lighten her grumpy mood.

Don’t flip your wig caring for someone with memory loss:

Memory loss can feel frustrating and can cause a constant sense of disorientation. Older people often seem grumpy from physical aches, pains, or mental worries. This can cause them to be agitated toward you, their caretaker. Avoid matching their mood, and try to keep your cool when a moment gets tense.

“Dad, please don’t flip your wig… I’m happy to help you!”

An older man angrily points his finger at a younger man.

Take a Chill Pill

Just Relax!

Take a chill pill when caring for someone with memory loss:

Patience is key when someone can’t remember why they called, where they were going, or who just called and left a message. It’s a good reminder to breathe when we feel frustration mounting and maybe count to ten. You can give this advice out loud to yourself and your loved one.

“Dad, I’m sorry, life is tough. Guess we could both take a chill pill.”

A happy senior couple sits on a couch together | old people phrases

Your Old Lady

Saying this today is probably not a good idea. This phrase now sounds like a put-down. But when grandpa was younger, a man probably called his wife his “old lady” with love.

Caring for your old lady with memory loss:

Age-related memory loss affects language and behavior. Sometimes your loved one might do something frustrating or even embarrassingly ridiculous. A simple, gentle redirection can help with the situation. You can add a playful tease:

“Dad, what would your old lady say?”

A happy older man wearing a cowboy hat.

This Isn’t My First Rodeo

This cowboy-sounding statement has nothing to do with bulls and horses. It simply means you have done something before. You know what to do.

You’ve got this! It isn’t your first rodeo spending a day caring for someone with memory loss:

Getting old is not easy, especially when you add dementia or Alzheimer’s to the mix. Joints hurt. You lose your independence. And, going out on the town probably means just another doctor’s visit. It’s important to encourage your loved one when they feel discouraged on that day. They will gain strength when you tell them you have confidence in them.

“Dad, you got this. You know this isn’t your first rodeo.”

A father and a son spend a day in the park together, walking with the younger man putting an arm around his father.

Strike While the Iron Is Hot

This phrase implies that sometimes you need to seize the moment, don’t hesitate.

Strike while the iron is hot and have some fun when you can even with memory loss:

People with age-related memory loss won’t remember what happened last year or maybe even yesterday. They know what is happening right now. It is important to have some spontaneity when a good day happens.

“Dad, the sun is shining. We’re going to strike while the iron is hot and take that trip to the park!”

An older man in yellow sweater waves to a friend over a fence.

Howdy Doody

The phrase “howdy doody” is often a lighthearted and cheerful way to say hello. It comes from the Howdy Doody show that aired in the 1950s and 60s. Just the sound of it feels like it should be said with a bright smile.

Start the day with a good ol’ “howdy doody” when caring for someone with memory loss:

Using familiar phrases like “howdy doody” can evoke memories and emotions that are comforting to someone with dementia. Talking about memories leads to a greater connection with the present and improved social interaction. Your next phone call to your loved one can sound encouraging and cheerful.

“Howdy Doody, Dad! Today is going to be a great day.”

A younger person has come to help an older person and is holding the hand of an older person.

Use a Little Elbow Grease

This phrase reflects the work ethic of past generations. It means that if you wanted a job done right, you must put in some good old-fashion hard work and effort. The feeling of seeing a job well done is pure satisfaction.

Sometimes you have to use a little elbow grease when caring for someone with memory loss:

Taking care of your loved one on the good and bad days is not easy. You have to roll up your sleeves and do whatever needs to be done. But you will be satisfied to hear your parent say this sweet phrase in gratitude.

“You’ve used more than a little elbow grease to help me. Thank you!”

Some of the most popular sayings include “age doesn’t define you” and “you’re never too old to learn something new.” Old people also say that ‘dogs are man’s best friend’ and that ‘water is worth more than money.’ I think perhaps that understanding these sayings is the real way to stay healthy and beautiful.

Why Are Old Adage Sayings Important?

Even if some of the old slang phrases don’t make a lot of sense today, listening to the language your older loved one uses can give you a small window into how their brain is working. This offers you the opportunity to connect with them as well as watch for signs of memory decline.

Connecting Through the Past

Communication is not always easy for people with age-related memory loss. And trying to have a conversation with your parent can feel frustrating for you as well. You might think a door is closed for privacy reasons when it is closing to shut a frustrating world out.

The goal is to keep your loved one talking with you as much as possible in the best way they can. Using language and phrases that are familiar will help with this goal.

Using familiar sayings and phrases from yesteryear can help your loved one:

  • Connect to universal ideas

  • Pass on and share good advice

  • Give a springboard to personal stories

  • Build bridges between generations

It’s also important to remember that older people with memory loss problems can experience a time shift in their thinking patterns. This means that as their ability to maintain their short-term memory fades, they hang on to their older memories to help them make sense of their surroundings.

With a mental time shift, memory loss patients tend to reminisce about their past more than they are aware of and can often be less aware of the present moment by comparison. Reminiscing can be a comforting enjoyable activity for memory loss patients as it allows them to reconnect with their past and feel a sense of familiarity and continuity in their life.

You can always search websites like Pinterest and Facebook to read other old-time sage advice and phrases. And books, articles, and free online resources are a great way to keep your mind sharp and help you stay on the cutting edge of trends and phrases in food, travel, and culture.

Red Flags of Memory Decline

While our loved one’s language and phrases can make us chuckle, listening to their language patterns can help you monitor their health. Language can give you a sign of the subtleties of memory loss progression.

When watching for initial or progressing memory loss, look for,

  • Repeated phrases

  • Repeated memories

  • Difficulty finding the right word to use

  • Asking the same questions over and over

  • Confusion or not being able to follow a conversation

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, older people living with memory loss problems may not be able to express what they are feeling, so repetition is an attempt to reassure or comfort themselves as they search for words.

Watch for these signs and call your loved one’s doctor if you have any concerns about initial or progressing memory loss.


Memory loss isn’t easy for the

person experiencing it or for the caretaker. Since memory loss tends to drive a person farther into their past, embracing their past with old phrases can bring your loved one comfort and can help lighten your mood.

People who experience memory loss tend to repeat what they do remember in their conversations as you try to visit and talk with them. Instead of getting frustrated with your loved one for telling you the same story for the hundredth time, you can enjoy their memories by understanding better what they might be talking about.

Young woman speaking with her grandmother. They are having a great conversation with eye-to-eye contact.

Encouraging conversation is a positive experience for older people. As you hear funny-sounding phrases, you can ask questions about what the phrases mean. Asking about the details of stories can help exercise their brain muscles and keep memories alive longer.

With patience, compassion, and a little bit of creativity, we can help our loved ones live their best lives despite the challenges of cognitive impairment. As the saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And with a little bit of determination and a lot of heart, we can help our loved ones live their best lives – one day at a time.

caregivers at Amy’s Eden love to chat with your loved ones about years past. Our residents’ interesting stories and memories give important content to understanding their needs. Call us today to learn how we can help you because “many hands make light work.”

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