Tittle Old Age - The last stage of Human Life
Chronologically, the human life is divided and understood at different points such as infancy, babyhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. About one forth of a man’s life is spent in growing up and preparing for active participation in society. Similarly, one half is engaged in a variety of activities in an attempt to gain happiness and, the final quarter of life is spent in a progressive process of reduced activity leading to physical decline. Aging may be defined in broad terms as the totality of post maturational changes that occur in an individual. Old age is an unavoidable and irreversible life process. William Shakespeare aptly described the last phase of the seven stages of a human being as “Last of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans every thing.”
Aging is an issue in the contemporary society. The definition of old age varies across and within countries as well as over time. According to Tibbittis (1989) “Aging may best be defined as the survival of a growing number of people who have completed their traditional roles of making living and child bearing”. “Aging refers to the cumulative, progressive and degenerative changes that occur over a period of life course” (Ramamurti, 1995).
In Indian context, old age is linked to the retirement age, generally which is around 60 years. Old age is defined in developing countries as a state of dependence and incapacity thought to begin at the point when the person can no longer work.
Handler (1960) indicated aging as the deterioration of a mature organism resulting from time dependent, essentially irreversible changes intrinsic to all members of a species.
When a person, over a period of time, due to normal reasons becomes old it is called the normal aging. But, when a person becomes old due to other reasons it is called psychological aging. Comfort (1956) considers aging as a change in behavior of the organism which comes about with the increase in chronological age, which leads to a decrease in adjustment and hence in fitness so to say for survival. Old age comes about on account of the stresses and strain accumulated through successive phases of life. Old age occupies a very important place in one’s life. It is universal, natural and is the longest period of human life. Old age is as inevitable as evening after day. The figures 16 and 61 are just opposite, at 16 years man dreams about life and at 61 begins to wonder how all the life has passed off. Hence, old age is filled with memories of childhood, adolescent excitements and adulthood responsibilities. Now it is time for him to realize his unfulfilled dreams, incomplete work and unsatisfied needs.