The term old age has received numerous synonyms depending on the locality of an individual. Various terms have been used to refer to this particular state, some of which are positive, while others are negative. In Britain and some parts of America, people who are at this stage of life are referred to as senior citizens and the elderly. Old age can be defined as the period when a person is nearing his life span. It is estimated that this is the time a person approaches his or her peak to life. The exact boundary between the middle ages and old age has not been defined properly to date. An individual can be considered to be old due to certain changes in his physical structure, roles or the daily social activities. In other societies, old age is pronounced when one becomes a grandparent or upon retirement, if the person in question was employed on such basis.
Upon attaining the age of 65, an individual is believed to have about 15 years left to live. This is because it is recorded that the life span of a person is 80 years on average. However, there are other factors to be considered. For example, if an individual descended from an ancestral history with long lives, then the genes would be coded and adapted to live longer should all other conditions be kept constant. Americans believe that women live slightly 8 years more than the male counterparts. American statistical records put the life expectancy of an average man in the United States at about 71 years while that of a woman at 79 years. It is estimated that by 2030, 17% of the total population will be those individuals aged 65 and above.
In the industrialized nations, it is expected that at this age, any civil servant should be retiring. To many, retirement plus its benefits are considered to be rewards from the state for rendering their services for many years they have been engaged in the spirit of nation building. It is my hope that the trend should continue the same way so that the senior citizens may enjoy a quiet and sound phase of their life. This is in agreement with the norms in the wider society where everyone depends on the other for the mutual survival.
The family is the society’s basic unit and has the responsibility of reforming the youths and child bearing and rearing. At this point, everyone has to take a role whether young or old. Premium is placed on the youth who depend mostly on the care and nurture provided by the old who happen to be their parents. Therefore, in such a society, the senior citizens are seen as important assets to the society’s growth as a whole. However, since the old have achieved much of the input required during their youthful stage, the society tends to develop a negative perception towards them. Therefore, they encounter many problems which range from prejudice due to age to the issue of their productivity.
The subject of retirement appears to bring with it an opportunity of doing things that one has never done before. This is coupled with a notable amount of depression and loneliness which results from losing the social capital one has managed to collect for years. It is common that the majority of people who worked in the cities return to the rural setting and many expectations are held on them, but they fail to meet those expectations. In other countries, Medicare is provided to those who have developed some health problems, and in some instances special attention is provided for on a daily basis at the comfort of their homes.
It is apparent that senior citizens are as competent as any other person, though they are said to take time in arriving at decisions and taking actions. This is due to their abundant store of experience and the long time memory which requires more time for data retrieval. Prejudice and neglect should not be a subject to establish whether to employ their services or not. In fact, many of the decisions arrived at and plans made by the senior citizens are found to be very sound and effective. This corresponds to the old English saying that ‘old is gold’. For practical demonstration, the seniors should be allowed equal opportunity to others, as long as they can deliver.
Since the society is an organized group that is meant for mutual survival, the input of the aged towards setting of standards to the youth is of the paramount importance. Without the seniors, the juniors cannot achieve much on their own. Although there is a common belief that life after 65 is a perception, it is not uncommon to have people who enjoy their life after retirement to the fullest. Most individuals can as well engage in small or medium business enterprises to keep them going. This would eliminate the boredom and loneliness that could have been experienced in case they decided to just sit back and watch TV in their couches. The practice of engaging in meaningful activities after retirement would also help them in alleviating unnecessary diseases which could have been brought by living a sedentary life. It could also avoid stress that could affect the old people due to the forgotten roles.