Official definitions[ edit ] Old age comprises "the later part of life; the period of life after youth and middle age. At the same time, the WHO recognized that the developing world often defines old age, not by years, but by new roles, loss of previous roles, or inability to make active contributions to society.
Being 60—65 years old is usually a requirement for becoming eligible for senior social programs. In developed countries, most people in their 60s and early 70s are still fit, active, and able to care for themselves.
In British English, the "third age" is "the period in life of active retirement, following middle age". The distinguishing marks of old age normally occur in all five senses at different times and different rates for different persons. For example, people may be considered old when they become grandparents or when they begin to do less or different work in retirement. It implies that the person being referred to is retired.
Synonyms include old age pensioner or pensioner in British English, and retiree and senior in American English. Some dictionaries describe widespread use of "senior citizen" for people over the age of It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as old person, old-age pensioner, or elderly as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as " citizens " of society, of senior rank.
Especially in less formal contexts, it is often abbreviated as "senior s ", which is also used as an adjective. In commerce, some businesses offer customers of a certain age a " senior discount ". The age at which these discounts are available varies between 55, 60, 62 or 65, and other criteria may also apply. Sometimes a special " senior discount card " or other proof of age needs to be obtained and produced to show entitlement.
Age qualifications[ edit ] The age which qualifies for senior citizen status varies widely. In governmental contexts, it is usually associated with an age at which pensions or medical benefits for the elderly become available. In commercial contexts, where it may serve as a marketing device to attract customers, the age is often significantly lower. The AARP allows couples in which one spouse has reached the age of 50 to join, regardless of the age of the other spouse.
Marks of old age[ edit ] Also see Ageing Effects of ageing The distinguishing characteristics of old age are both physical and mental. Also, they occur at different rates and order for different people. Old bones are marked by "thinning and shrinkage". Some older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. May have less saliva and less ability for oral hygiene in old age which increases the chance of tooth decay and infection.
It is more common in the elderly and symptoms worsen with age. Presbyopia can occur by age 50 and it hinders reading especially of small print in low lighting. Speed with which an individual reads and the ability to locate objects may also be impaired. Old age spells risk for injury from falls that might not cause injury to a younger person. Some aspects of gait normally change with old age.
Gait velocity slows after age Double stance time i. Because of gait change, old people sometimes appear to be walking on ice. In addition, atherosclerosis can constrict blood flow. Less efficient immune function Immunosenescence is a mark of old age. This inability to get around has serious "social, psychological, and physical consequences".
People aged 75— continue to experience sensuality and sexual pleasure. Wounds and injuries are more likely to leave permanent scars. Food becomes less appealing and nutrition can suffer. In old age, vocal cords weaken and vibrate more slowly. This results in a weakened, breathy voice that is sometimes called an "old person's voice". Adaptable describes most people in their old age. Despite the stressfulness of old age, they are described as "agreeable" and "accepting".
However, old age dependence induces feelings of incompetence and worthlessness in a minority. This antipathy toward "risk-taking" stems from the fact that old people have less to gain and more to lose by taking risks than younger people.
When people are prejudiced against the elderly and then become old themselves, their anti-elderly prejudice turns inward, causing depression. The fear persists in spite of the fact that old people are victims of crime less often than younger people. It takes more time to learn the same amount of new information. Demented behavior can include wandering, physical aggression, verbal outbursts, depression, and psychosis.
In her The Denial of Aging, Dr. Gillick, a baby boomer , accuses her contemporaries of believing that by proper exercise and diet they can avoid the scourges of old age and proceed from middle age to death. These discourses take part in a general idea of successful ageing.
However, at about age 80, all people experience similar morbidity. The scribe addressed God with a prayer of lament: Oldness has come; old age has descended. Feebleness has arrived; dotage is here anew.
The heart sleeps wearily every day. The eyes are weak, the ears are deaf, the strength is disappearing because of weariness of the heart and the mouth is silent and cannot speak. The heart is forgetful and cannot recall yesterday. The bone suffers old age. Good is become evil. All taste is gone. What old age does to men is evil in every respect. The Truth about Aging in America with "getting old sucks.
It always has, it always will. Rubin contrasts the "real old age" with the "rosy pictures" painted by middle-age writers. Morrison delineates the heroism required by old age: Morrison concludes, "old age is not for the fainthearted. One interviewee described living in old age as "pure hell".
Old age was reckoned as one of the unanswerable "great mysteries" along with evil, pain, and suffering. The general understanding is that those who lived into their 40's were treated with respect and awe. In contrast, those who were frail were seen as a burden and ignored or in extreme cases killed. In his Ethics, he wrote that "old people are miserly; they do not acknowledge disinterested friendship; only seeking for what can satisfy their selfish needs.
The priests assure them that "they shall be happy after death. At that age, they practiced self-immolation. Rather than condemn the practice, Bishop Guevara called it a "golden world" in which people "have overcome the natural appetite to desire to live". The young are "consistent in their negative attitude" toward the old. Wearing swimmer's goggles with black paper pasted to lens with only a small hole to simulate tunnel vision, Hearing: Use ear plugs to dull the sound of people talking.
Wearing thick gloves, button a shirt or buckle a belt. With tape around several fingers, unscrew a jar lid. Carry packages in one hand while using a walker. On set 1, write your 5 most enjoyed activities; on set 2, write your 5 most valued possessions; on set 3, write your 5 most loved people.
Then "lose" them one by one, trying to feel each loss, until you have lost them all as happens in old age. Old age frailty[ edit ] An image of an elderly man being guided by a young child accompanies William Blake 's poem London , from his Songs of Innocence and Experience  Most people in the age range of 60—80 the years of retirement and early old age , enjoy rich possibilities for a full life, but the condition of frailty distinguished by "bodily failure" and greater dependence becomes increasingly common after that.
However, they add that physicians recognize frailty when they see it. The study calls these years the "fourth age" or "old age in the real meaning of the term". Similarly, the "Berlin Aging Study" rated over-all functionality on four levels: People in their 70s were mostly rated good. In the 80—90 year range, the four levels of functionality were divided equally. This deterioration is gradual for some and precipitous for others. Frailty is marked by an array of chronic physical and mental problems which means that frailty is not treatable as a specific disease.
These problems coupled with increased dependency in the basic activities of daily living ADLs required for personal care add emotional problems: Such erroneous conceptions include 1 people in old age have at least one family member for support, 2 old age well-being requires social activity, and 3 "successful adaptation" to age-related changes demands a continuity of self-concept.
Second, that contrary to popular notions, the interviews revealed that the reduced activity and socializing of the over 85s does not harm their well-being; they "welcome increased detachment". Third, rather than a continuity of self-concept, as the interviewees faced new situations they changed their "cognitive and emotional processes" and reconstituted their "self—representation".
Medical advances have made it possible to "postpone death" for years. This added time costs many frail people "prolonged sickness, dependence, pain, and suffering". The frail are vulnerable to "being tipped over" by any physical stress put on the system such as medical interventions.
About the same number said that, given a terminal illness, they would choose assisted suicide.