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Old age comprises "the later part of life; the period of life after youth and middle age . Most developed-world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person.The United Nations has agreed that 60 years may be usually denoted as old age and this is the first attempt at an international definition of old age.Some dictionaries describe widespread use of "senior citizen" for people over the age of 65.When defined in an official context, senior citizen is often used for legal or policy-related reasons in determining who is eligible for certain benefits available to the age group.Chronological age may differ considerably from a person's functional age.The distinguishing marks of old age normally occur in all five senses at different times and different rates for different persons.These discourses take part in a general idea of successful ageing. Morrison concludes, "old age is not for the fainthearted." Based on his survey of old age in history, Georges Minois concludes that "it is clear that always and everywhere youth has been preferred to old age." In western thought, "old age is an evil, an infirmity and a dreary time of preparation for death." Furthermore, death is often preferred over "decrepitude, because death means deliverance." "The problem of the ambiguity of old age has . Old age was reckoned as one of the unanswerable "great mysteries" along with evil, pain, and suffering.
In Canada, the OAS (Old Age Security) pension is available at 65 (the Conservative government of Stephen Harper had planned to gradually increase the age of eligibility to 67, starting in the years 2023–2029, although the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is considering leaving it at 65), and the CPP (Canada Pension Plan) as early as age 60.
Especially in less formal contexts, it is often abbreviated as "senior(s)", which is also used as an adjective.
In commerce, some businesses offer customers of a certain age a "senior discount".
It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as old person, old-age pensioner, or elderly as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as "citizens" of society, of senior rank.
It has come into widespread use in recent decades in legislation, commerce, and common speech.