Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Tammi Vacha-Haase & Kate L. Martin
Although aging is a topic that applies to everyone, it tends to be a mysterious process, often leading to more questions than answers upon thoughtful reflection. It may be that we know it when we see it, but little agreement exists in terms of definition, explanation, understanding, or relevancy to oneself. Old age is typically defined as any age over 65 years, although this number is an arbitrary cutoff. With the increasing life span, additional terminology or definitions have appeared. Gerontologists, professionals who study aging, refer to adults over 65 but under age 75 as the “young-old,” those age 75 to 85 as the “old-old,” and those over age 85 as the “oldest old.” However, aging may be best understood when placed within a cultural context, as life expectancy varies greatly around the world. Today, the life expectancy in most industrialized countries is well over 70 years of age and ...