Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: Is it permissible to say about an elderly person, that because of his age he doesn’t comprehend or remember what is going on, or would it constitute lashon hara?

A: If there is no constructive purpose, and you are just making small talk about an elderly person who is forgetful or confused, it would constitute lashon hara. With Hashem’s help, many elderly people have their heads on their shoulders and their memories intact, especially talmidei chachamim whose wisdom increases with age (da’atam misyasheves aleihem.) It would therefore be a negative statement to say about a senior that he is confused. (It is very different to say about older people that they rely on a cane for walking.)

If there is a constructive purpose in stating the above fact, then there are many circumstances where it would be permissible, but each situation must be judged individually. If it is already public knowledge, then there are cases where it wouldn’t be considered lashon hara, but details cannot be elaborated upon here.

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