O Sovereign my Lord! Oldness has come; old age has descended. Feebleness has arrived; dotage is here anew. The heart sleeps wearily every day. The eyes are weak, the ears are deaf, the strength is disappearing because of weariness of the heart and the mouth is silent and cannot speak.
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The heart is forgetful and cannot recall yesterday. The bone suffers old age. Good is become evil.
All taste is gone. What old age does to men is evil in every respect. 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.
It always has, it always will. Rubin contrasts the "real old age" with the "rosy pictures" painted by middle-age writers. Writing at the age of 87, Mary C. Morrison describes the heroism required by old age: to live through the disintegration of one's own body or that of someone you love.
Morrison concludes, "old age is not for the fainthearted. One interviewee described living in old age as "pure hell".
Based on his survey of old age in history, Georges Minois concludes that "it is clear that always and everywhere youth has been preferred to old age. In the Classical period of Greek and Roman cultures, old age was denigrated as a time of "decline and decrepitude". Old age was reckoned as one of the unanswerable "great mysteries" along with evil, pain, and suffering. The Medieval and Renaissance periods depicted old age as "cruel or weak". Historical periods reveal a mixed picture of the "position and status" of old people, but there has never been a "golden age of aging".
In ancient times, although some strong and healthy people lived until they were over 70 most died before they were The general understanding is that those who lived into their 40s were treated with respect and awe. In contrast, those who were frail were seen as a burden and ignored or in extreme cases killed.
Although he was skeptical of the gods, Aristotle concurred in the dislike of old people. In his Ethics , he wrote that "old people are miserly; they do not acknowledge disinterested friendship; only seeking for what can satisfy their selfish needs. The 16th-century Utopians, Thomas More and Antonio de Guevara , allowed no decrepit old people in their fictional lands.
For Thomas More, on the island of Utopia , when people are so old as to have "out-lived themselves" and are terminally ill, in pain, and a burden to everyone, the priests exhort them about choosing to die.
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The priests assure them that "they shall be happy after death. Antonio de Guevara 's utopian nation "had a custom, not to live longer than sixty five years". At that age, they practiced self-immolation. Rather than condemn the practice, Bishop Guevara called it a "golden world" in which people "have overcome the natural appetite to desire to live". In the Modern period, the "cultural status" of old people has declined in many cultures. Research on age-related attitudes consistently finds that negative attitudes exceed positive attitudes toward old people because of their looks and behavior.
Harvard University's implicit-association test measures implicit "attitudes and beliefs" about Young vis a vis Old. The young are "consistent in their negative attitude" toward the old. Despite its prevalence, ageism is seldom the subject of public discourse. In , a documentary film called The Age of Love used humor and poignant adventures of 30 seniors who attend a speed dating event for to year-olds, and discovered how the search for romance changes; or does not change; from a childhood sweetheart to older age.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote that "there is one form of experience that belongs only to those that are old — that of old age itself. On set 1, write your 5 most enjoyed activities; on set 2, write your 5 most valued possessions; on set 3, write your 5 most loved people. Then "lose" them one by one, trying to feel each loss, until you have lost them all as happens in old age.
Most people in the age range of 60—80 the years of retirement and early old age , enjoy rich possibilities for a full life, but the condition of frailty distinguished by "bodily failure" and greater dependence becomes increasingly common after that. Gerontologists note the lack of research regarding and the difficulty in defining frailty.
However, they add that physicians recognize frailty when they see it. A group of geriatricians proposed a general definition of frailty as "a physical state of increased vulnerability to stressors  that results from decreased reserves and disregulation  in multiple physiological systems". Frailty is a common condition in later old age but different definitions of frailty produce diverse assessments of prevalence. A worldwide study of "patterns of frailty" based on data from 20 nations found a a consistent correlation between frailty and age, b a higher frequency among women, and c more frailty in wealthier nations where greater support and medical care increases longevity.
The study calls these years the "fourth age" or "old age in the real meaning of the term". Similarly, the "Berlin Aging Study" rated over-all functionality on four levels: good, medium, poor, and very poor. People in their 70s were mostly rated good. In the 80—90 year range, the four levels of functionality were divided equally.
Three unique markers of frailty have been proposed: a loss of any notion of invincibility, b loss of ability to do things essential to one's care, and c loss of possibility for a subsequent life stage. Old age survivors on-average deteriorate from agility in their 65—80s to a period of frailty preceding death.
This deterioration is gradual for some and precipitous for others. Frailty is marked by an array of chronic physical and mental problems which means that frailty is not treatable as a specific disease. These problems coupled with increased dependency in the basic activities of daily living ADLs required for personal care add emotional problems: depression and anxiety.
Johnson and Barer did a pioneering study of Life Beyond 85 Years by interviews over a six-year period. In talking with year-olds and older, they found some popular conceptions about old age to be erroneous. Such erroneous conceptions include 1 people in old age have at least one family member for support, 2 old age well-being requires social activity, and 3 "successful adaptation" to age-related changes demands a continuity of self-concept.
Second, that contrary to popular notions, the interviews revealed that the reduced activity and socializing of the overs does not harm their well-being; they "welcome increased detachment". Third, rather than a continuity of self-concept, as the interviewees faced new situations they changed their "cognitive and emotional processes" and reconstituted their "self—representation". Frail people require a high level of care. Medical advances have made it possible to "postpone death" for years. This added time costs many frail people "prolonged sickness, dependence, pain, and suffering".
According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ , the rate of emergency department visits was consistently highest among patients ages 85 years and older in — in the United States. These final years are also costly in economic terms. Medical treatments in the final days are not only economically costly, they are often unnecessary, even harmful.
Gillick M. The frail are vulnerable to "being tipped over" by any physical stress put on the system such as medical interventions. Old age, death, and frailty are linked because approximately half the deaths in old age are preceded by months or years of frailty. Older Adults' Views on Death is based on interviews with people in the 70—90 age range, with a mean age of About the same number said that, given a terminal illness, they would choose assisted suicide. Roughly half chose doing nothing except live day by day until death comes naturally without medical or other intervention designed to prolong life.
This choice was coupled with a desire to receive palliative care if needed. About half of older adults suffer multimorbidity, that is, they have three or more chronic conditions. Most of the interviewees did not fear death; some would welcome it. One person said, "Living this long is pure hell.
Some wanted to die in their sleep; others wanted to die "on their feet". The study of Older Adults' Views on Death found that the more frail people were, the more "pain, suffering, and struggles" they were enduring, the more likely they were to "accept and welcome" death as a release from their misery. Their fear about the process of dying was that it would prolong their distress. Besides being a release from misery, some saw death as a way to reunion with departed loved ones.
Others saw death as a way to free their caretakers from the burden of their care. Generally speaking, old people have always been more religious than young people. In a British year longitudinal study, less than half of the old people surveyed said that religion was "very important" to them, and a quarter said they had become less religious in old age. Participation in organized religion is not a good indicator of religiosity because transportation and health problems often hinder participation. In the industrialized countries, life expectancy and, thus, the old age population have increased consistently over the last decades.
By , the number of senior citizens had increased to about 35 million of million US citizens. Population experts estimate that more than 50 million Americans—about 17 percent of the population—will be 65 or older in The number of old people is growing around the world chiefly because of the post—World War II baby boom and increases in the provision and standards of health care.
The growing number of people living to their 80s and 90s in the developed world has strained public welfare systems and has also resulted in increased incidence of diseases like cancer and dementia that were rarely seen in premodern times. Other issues that can arise from an increasing population are growing demands for health care and an increase in demand for different types of services.