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"Old people" redirects here. For the Khmer Rouge term, see New People. Old Woman Dozing by Nicolaes Maes (1656). Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels
Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle. Euphemisms and terms for old people include seniors (American usage), senior citizens (British and American usage), older adults (in the social sciences), and the elderly.
Old people have limited regenerative abilities and are more prone to disease, syndromes, and sickness than younger adults. For the biology of ageing, see senescence. The medical study of the aging process is gerontology, and the study of diseases that afflict the elderly is geriatrics. Contents
2 Changes associated with aging
3 Demographic changes
4 Psychosocial aspects
5 Life expectancy
6 Assistance and Care
7 See also
9 External links
Elders from Turkey, 2010
The boundary between middle age and old age cannot be defined exactly because it does not have the same meaning in all societies. People can be considered old because of certain changes in their activities or social roles. Examples: people may be considered old when they become grandparents, or when they begin to do less or different work—retirement. Traditionally, the age of 60 was generally seen as the beginning of old age. Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person.
German chancellor Otto von Bismarck created the world's first comprehensive government social safety net in the 1880s, providing for old age pensions and setting 60 as the age of retirement. The fixed retirement age of 70 was the first attempt at defining the start of old age. In the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, the age of 65 was traditionally considered the beginning of the senior years because, until recently, United States and British people became eligible to retire at this age with full Social Security benefits. In 2003, the age at which a US citizen became eligible for full Social Security benefits began to increase gradually, and will continue to do so until it reaches 67 in 2027. Full retirement age for Social Security benefits for people retiring in 2012 is age 66. Originally, the purpose of old age pensions was to prevent elderly persons from being reduced to beggary, which is still common in some underdeveloped countries, but growing life expectancies and elder populations has brought into question the model under which pension systems were designed. Changes associated with aging
Main article: Aging
A grey-haired old woman from the United Kingdom
There is often a general physical decline, and people become less active. Old age can cause, amongst other things:
Wrinkles and liver spots on the skin due to loss of subcutaneous fat Change of hair color to gray or white
Reduced circulatory system function and blood flow
Reduced lung capacity
Reduced immune system function
Changes in the vocal cords that produce the typical "old person" voice Heightened risk for injury from falls that otherwise would not cause injury. Lessened and weakened hearing. Of individuals 75 and older, 48% of men and 37% of women encounter difficulties in hearing. Of the 26.7 million people over age 50 with a hearing impairment, only one in seven use a hearing aid Diminished eyesight. It becomes more difficult to read in low lighting and in smaller print. Speed with which an individual reads may also be impaired. Reduced mental and cognitive ability.
Lessening or cessation of sex, sometimes because of physical symptoms such as erectile dysfunction in men, but often simply a decline in libido. Greater...