In the context of a story about victims of Nazi persecution during World War II, the victims are described as "the elderly and those suffering from exhaustion".

EDIT - I will elaborate a bit on the "exhaustion" part. I'm referring to roundups and death marches. The exhaustion is after people had walked a great deal - some of the people in the group will have suffered from exhaustion, and could barely stand on their feet. The Nazis would have separated out the elderly, and those who couldn't stand anymore, and would probably have sent them to their deaths.

Can we say "the elderly and the fatigued", or "the elderly and the exhausted"? If not - are there alternatives?

Thank you!

  • What's wrong with "the elderly and those suffering from exhaustion"?
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 31, 2015 at 16:23
  • Here's my understanding of the death marches at the end of the war: Anyone who couldn't keep up (for whatever reason) was shot on the spot. Sep 2, 2015 at 4:40
  • Agreed. That's exactly what I'm trying to convey.
    – Ilanysong
    Sep 2, 2015 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


the infirm (plural noun), derived from infirm (adj.), meaning:

not physically or mentally strong, especially through age or illness

'care for the infirm'

If you wish to emphasise the poor health of the elderly people in your story, you could refer to them as frail (adj.):

(of a person) weak and delicate

'his small, frail body'

Source: ODO

  • Does "infirm" imply that the person is weak by nature, or weakened by a particular situation, or both?
    – Ilanysong
    Aug 31, 2015 at 20:11
  • Hi @Ilanysong infirm can refer to people who have always been weak, ie through lifelong illness and disability. It is primarily used to describe those who are weakened through situations eg overwork, malnutrition, lack of hygiene and medicines, resulting from wartime persecution and deprivation. The infirm are regarded as having long-term physical and/or mental weaknesses and usually need to be cared for by others. Aug 31, 2015 at 20:59

I can see no problem with, "the elderly and the exhausted". It begs some explanation of why they were exhausted but I presume that has been covered in the preceding text. Otherwise you can add it.


After the long march, the elderly and the exhausted were separated from the others.


The elderly and those exhausted from their morning's work were separated from the others.

Exhaustion is a strong word and needs some explanation. Otherwise you may need a different word.


A typical phrase that doesn't require additional information is, 'the elderly and the infirm.'

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