Definition: Defining the Meaning of Old Age
Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle. Euphemisms and terms for old people include, old people (worldwide usage), seniors (American usage), senior citizens (British and American usage), older adults (in the social sciences), the elderly, and elders (in many cultures, including the cultures of aboriginal people).
The Issue of Ageism in America Today - Thomas C. Weiss - (2012-09-12)
In 2050, the total number of Americans aged 65 and older will be 88 million, double the number estimated for 2010. As an economic and political force, researchers say that older adults hold a tremendous amount of social power.
Euphemisms and terms for older people include seniors, an American usage, elderly, and lately the catch phrase, baby boomers is used a lot.
Baby boomer is a term used to describe a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom. The baby boom had profound demographic, cultural, economic, and political implications. The term baby boomer is used around the world, however it can have very different implications in different areas; in some areas it refers merely to the time period, rather than an actual "baby boom."
In 2011, the first of the baby boom generation reached what used to be known as retirement age - and for the next 18 years, U.S. boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day!
In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon.
Today, Baby Boomers comprise nearly 28% of the adult US population.
The U.S. Census Bureau considers a baby boomer to be someone born during the demographic birth boom between 1946 and 1964.
The medical study of the aging process is gerontology, and the study of diseases that afflict the elderly is geriatrics.
The boundary between middle age and old age cannot be defined exactly because it does not have the same meaning in all societies.
In many parts of the world, people are 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.
In North America and Europe, people are often considered old if they have lived a certain number of years.
The effects of aging can cause wrinkles and liver spots on the skin, change of hair color to grey or white or loss of hair (or both), lessened hearing and sight abilities, loss of reaction time and agility or reduced ability to think clearly or recall memories.
Quick Facts: Seniors & Retirement Age
Senior citizen is a common euphemism for an old person used in American English, and sometimes in British English. It implies or means that the person being referred to is retired. This in turn usually implies or in fact means that the person is over the retirement age, which varies according to country. Synonyms include old age pensioner or pensioner in British English, and retiree and senior in American English. Some dictionaries describe widespread usage of "senior citizen" for people over the age of 65.
- In the United States, the standard retirement age is currently 65 (gradually increasing to 67).
- The AARP allows couples in which one spouse has reached the age of 50 to join, regardless of the age of the other spouse.
- In Canada, the OASP (Old Age Security Pension) is available at 65 (gradually increasing to 67, starting in the period 2023-2029), and the CPP (Canada Pension Plan) as early as age 60.
Statistics: Seniors & Aging
Worldwide, the number of people 65 or older is increasing faster than ever before. Most of this increase is occurring in developed countries.
- In the United States the percentage of people 65 or older increased from 4 percent in 1900 to about 13 percent in 1998.
- In 1900, only about 3 million of the nation's citizens had reached 65.
- By 1998, the number of senior citizens had increased to about 34 million.
- Population experts estimate that more than 50 million Americans, about 17 percent of the population, will be 65 or older in 2020.