Ageing Defined

Ageing Defined

"Trees grow stronger over the years, rivers wider. Likewise, with age, human beings gain immeasurable depth and breadth of experience and wisdom. That is why older persons should be not only respected and revered; they should be utilized as the rich resource to society that they are”: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Ageing is a natural process that begins at birth, or to be more precise, at conception, a process that progresses throughout one’s life and ends at death.

Ageing is a constant, predictable process that involves growth and development of living organisms. Aging can't be avoided, but how fast we age varies from one person to another. How we age depends upon our genes, environmental influences, and life style.

Ageing can also be defined as a state of mind, which does not always keep pace with our chronological age. Attitude and how well we face the normal changes, challenges and opportunities of later life may best define our age.

Growing older cannot be prevented. We begin aging at the time of conception and continue aging one day at a time. However, some of the effects of aging can be slowed and even prevented. Prevention in later years requires participating in health education and health promotion activities designed to reduce the risk of disease. Prevention also involves engaging in interventions that improve outcomes in the event an illness does occur and includes efforts that reduce the risk of progressive disability and decline of function. In later life the goals of prevention also include maintaining function, vitality and quality of life./

According to “Towards Enriching Years” during the process of ageing, physical functions of the body slowly deteriorate demanding greater coping skills on the part of the ageing person to adjust to the environment. In addition, there are problems caused by others in the society because of their unfavorable attitudes. Ageism, like sexism or racism, is a concept pertaining to prejudice or a negative attitude towards a particular group. Ageism implies that the old are perceived as sick, unhappy, empty and useless, and are discriminated against.

As ageing is a continuous process in the structure and functions of the body, the physical abilities of the former tend to slow down with the passage of years. It is an impoverished environment, poor nutrition and diseases that break down the nervous system’s natural potential resistance against deterioration. As far as the psychological structures and functions are concerned, there need not necessarily be deterioration. Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher of first century BC, writing in his treatise On Old Age said that old people could retain their intellectual abilities by engaging their minds fully and actively and that old age was respectable as long as the elderly asserted themselves and were not dominated by anyone else. He supports his statements by referring to the death of Plato, the fifth century BC Greek philosopher. When death occurred, Plato was writing at his desk, at the age of 81 (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1963).

According to Wikipedia Ageing is any change in an organism over time. Aging refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change (Hultsch and Deutsch). Some dimensions of aging grow and expand over time, while others decline. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand (Schaie). Research shows that even late in life potential exists for physical, mental, and social growth and development. Aging is an important part of all human societies reflecting the biological changes that occur, but also reflecting cultural and societal conventions. Age is usually measured in full years — and months for young children. A person's birthday is often an important event.

Chronological aging, referring to how old a person is, is arguably the most straightforward definition of aging and may be distinguished from "social aging" (society's expectations of how people should act as they grow older) and "biological aging" (an organism's physical state as it ages). Stuart-Hamilton also notes distinction between "proximal aging" (age-based effects that come about because of factors in the recent past) and "distal aging" (age-based differences that can be traced back to a cause early in person's life, such as childhood poliomyelitis).