In Malaysia where I was born, you address complete strangers as Elder Sister, Aunt, Mother or Grandma, or the male equivalent. If they are younger than you, you call them Younger Brother or Sister or Son/Daughter.

People you know will attach these titles to your name when talking to you. Your name is shortened to better work in the titles. I am Kak Ani (elder sister Ani) or Aunty Mani, depending on the age of the person addressing me. On rare occasions there may be a moment of deciding who is older but for the most part it comes easily for everyone; if in doubt, you give the elder title to the other because that is the respectful and polite thing to do. Though the first time I was called Aunty instead of Elder Sister it was a shock! Now I brace for Grandmother, any day now, a stranger will call me Tuk.

In the best of conditions in Malaysia, everyone is family and part of a larger whole and the elderly are honored and respected, you don’t have to do anything, just be an elder and people treat you with veneration. When I was a kid, my generation’s respect for elders verged on fear. Today the young are less reverential, but still, pass 55 you are “Citizen Gold” and young Malaysians (which is just about everyone these days) treat you well.