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Word Count: 2,173
Gerontology is a relatively unexplored field in relationship to the entire human civilization Because we are in the demographic infancy of old age we are said to be still in a societal and cultural exploration phase of old age Therefore what we witness today as old age has not yet settled into a stable culture or environment Instead in the years and decades to come the facts and processes of old age are likely to undergo rapid changes to both cultural and behavioural representation Although some individuals have reached old age before the twentieth century today close to 50 of the population reach the age of 75 Like the rest of the developing world Australia is experiencing a rapid increase in the proportion and absolute number of older persons Taking the traditional retirement age of 65 as a reference point marking the beginning of the old age about 121 percent of Australias population or 185 million people fall into this category with the group aged 80 and over growing most rapidly Baltes Graf 1996 Browning Gething Helmes Luszcz Turner Ward Wells 2000 Ageing is not merely a biological phenomenon experienced identically by all people neither is it necessarily separate stages or states of being which just arrive The ageing process needs to be represented as a social physical psychological and spiritual process in which individuals have created for themselves or have imposed upon them Older people both experience and give meaning to their ageing within the constraints of specific material conditions eg issues such as housing income and access to relevant services and social conditions eg issues such as ageism and age discrimination gender race and empowerment cultural and linguistic diversity Experiences of past and future cohorts are likely to be very different from todays cohorts so care must be taken when communicating current data to future populations Older people have many experiences in common with other age groups and share many of
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