South Africa: Shifting Perceptions - Rethinking Old Age in an Older World


Faced with an increasingly healthy demographic of people over 65, more studies suggest the possibility that older people's roles in society and the workplace should not be as limited as it is right now.

"Over just this one century in the United States, some 28 years have been added to the average length of a person's life. This is more than was previously added in all of human history.

"The effects of this change continue to swirl around us. Their implications are so staggering as to be barely discernible. As people begin to glimpse these implications, they ask how good these added years are.

"Our answer is: we do not know, but recent research findings tell us that the quality of these years can be improved for most older people through interventions designed on the basis of scientific evidence and considered thought...

"In this introductory article, we address this challenge. We explore one of the central and most perplexing problems in our period of history: the problem of the imbalance or the mismatch between the strengths and capacities of the mounting numbers of long-lived people and the lack of role opportunities in society to utilise and reward these strengths."


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