Introducing ageing
Introducing ageing

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing ageing


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.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371