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Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle.Terms and euphemisms include old people (worldwide usage), seniors (American usage), senior citizens (British and American usages), older adults (in the social sciences), the elderly, and elders (in many cultures—including the cultures of aboriginal people).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.Gerontologists have recognized the very different conditions that people experience as they grow older within the years defined as old age.In developed countries, most people in their 60s and early 70s are still fit, active, and able to care for themselves.
The distinguishing characteristics of old age are both physical and mental.The marks of old age are so unlike the marks of middle age that legal scholar Richard Posner suggests that, as an individual transitions into old age, he/she can be thought of as different persons "time-sharing" the same identity. 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.Other writers treat the perceptions of middle-age people regarding their own old age. Studies find that many people in the 55–75 range can postpone morbidity by practicing healthy lifestyles. Minois comments that the scribe's "cry shows that nothing has changed in the drama of decrepitude between the age of the Pharaoh and the atomic age" and "expresses all the anguish of old people in the past and the present." Lillian Rubin, active in her 80s as an author, sociologist, and psychotherapist, opens her book 60 on Up: The Truth about Aging in America with "getting old sucks. Rubin contrasts the "real old age" with the "rosy pictures" painted by middle-age writers. Morrison delineates the heroism required by old age: to live through the disintegration of one's own body or that of someone you love. been with us since the stage of primitive society; it was both the source of wisdom and of infirmity, experience and decrepitude, of prestige and suffering." "Beauty and strength" were esteemed and old age was viewed as defiling and ugly.Many people are also willing to get involved in community and activist organizations to promote their well-being. The heart is forgetful and cannot recall yesterday. The general understanding is that those who lived into their 40's were treated with respect and awe.In contrast, perceptions of old age by writers 80 years old ("old age in the real meaning of the term O Sovereign my Lord! In contrast, those who were frail were seen as a burden and ignored or in extreme cases killed.
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Therefore, rather than lumping together all people who have been defined as old, some gerontologists have recognized the diversity of old age by defining sub-groups.