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Introducing ageing
Introducing ageing

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In this course, you have begun to think about the topic of ageing and later life. In particular, you have examined the idea of the Third and Fourth Ages and thought about how they can be applied to both individuals and population ageing.

Key points

  • Many people growing older in the UK today can expect to have many years of reasonably healthy and active life after they reach retirement age.
  • The period of life around and after retirement age is sometimes known as the ‘Third Age’ and can be a time some people find particularly fulfilling and satisfying.
  • The ‘Fourth Age’ refers to the period when an older person is frailer and often dependent on other people for their daily needs.
  • Categorising older people in this way can be useful because it makes it clear that being older is not the same thing as being dependent and in ill-health. This can help resist 'apocalyptic demography', which treats our ageing population as a problem, not a success.
  • Some of the disadvantages of categorising people in this way are that it seems to imply that people in the Fourth Age don’t experience self-fulfilment or make contributions to society, and that they are very different from everybody else.
  • Your own experiences of your own and other people’s ageing affect the ways you approach the topic of ageing and later life.