There are a few key notes to follow if you want to claim the title of "Elder" in any pagan social setting. Allot of people try to claim this title and just plain and simple, look like assholes. So how should one approach eldership? Well, I am not an elder, but as a pagan I know what I expect to see from an elder. Here is my "elder" job description:
1.) You should at least look like an elder. Even if you are in your 50's, if you come strutting around with a body and face like Madonna's, people are going to question your age and wisdom. While impressive that your body is peri or even post menopausal, having perky chest pearls and red hair and a face that looks 30 is just not conducive to preach to your younger counter parts. If someone is going to give me advice, I hope they have some gorgeous gray locks.. wrinkles optional.
2.) You should be at least in your mid 50's. While it is true that our ancestors of pagan spirituality lived significantly shorter lives, our society lives allot longer.. being 42 is not an elder. People are now having children later, most 35 year old's are now toting a toddler with them to the store. With people in general moving through milestones at older ages, it can be assumed that crone-hood comes much later than it did 40 years ago.
3.) You should be well versed in a multitude of traditions and paths. Just because you have studied 35 years as a solitary, does not mean that you are an expert at the workings of Traditional Wicca, Celtic Recon and Asatru.
4.) If you are younger than 70, you should not call yourself "... the elder". In fact most titles just make people turn up an eye brow. Mage, Magus, Queen, Lady, Wizard, High Priest, High Priestess, Sage...ya.. none of them sound cool to young pagans unless they are 14 and gullible. However, if you are a cane toting, gray haired wrinkle faced who walks around naked with a faded tramp stamp "Jane the Elder" is a pretty obviously funny name.
5.) Elders generally respect all people. If you are being rude and acting like a fool and saying things to younger pagans like "do you need a diaper change", no one is going to respect you.
6.) If you are trying to "teach" someone, make sure you have your facts straight. If you do mess up, the classic "Oh must be that CRS disease again" is better than saying "How dare you disrespect your elder".
So please, before you enter the pagan festival or message board, think about the message you give people before trying to "educate" them.