Old age is the closing period in the life span. Age sixty is usually
considered the dividing line between middle and old age. Chronological age is a
poor criteria to use in marking off the beginning of old age because there are
such marked differences among individuals in the age and better aging actually
begins. Because of better living conditions health care, most men and women
today do not show the mental and physical signs of aging until early seventies.
The characteristics of old age are far more likely to lead to poor adjustment
than to good and to unhappiness rather than to happiness. That is why old age
is even more dreaded than middle age.
Characteristics of old
Old age is a period of decline - decline comes
partly from physical and partly from psychological factors. There is change in
body cells due to the aging process. Unfavorable attitude towards one self and
life in general can lead to decline or become depressed and disorganized.
Motivation plays a very important role in decline.
There are individual differences in the effects
of aging. People age differently because they have different hereditary
endowment, different socio economic and educational backgrounds and different
patterns of living. The general rule is physical aging precedes mental aging.
Old age is judged by different criteria - age is
judged in terms of physical appearance and activities. One who has white hair
is labeled as old. There are many who try to cover up their aging symptoms to
create illusion that they are not yet old.
There are many stereotypes of old people - let
it be the folklore, the media, poetry, fiction, jokes or different forms of
humor or scientific studies, all portray the aged as those who are worn out
physically and mentally, unproductive, accident - prone, hard to live, days of
usefulness are over, should be pushed aside to make way for younger people.
Poor adjustment is characteristic of old age -
Because of the unfavorable social attitudes towards the elderly that are
reflected in the way the social group treat them, it is not surprising that
many elderly people develop unfavourable self-concepts. These tend to be
expressed in maladjusting behavior of different degree of severity.