In 1940 programs for the aged came under England’s welfare state system.
United States was one of the last countries to institute such programs.
Their life experiences and knowledge are regarded as valuable, especially in preliterate societies where knowledge is orally transmitted.
The range of activities in these societies allows the elderly to continue to be productive members of their communities.
The rising cost of medical care has caused a growing concern among older people and societies, in general resulting in constant reevaluation and reform of institutions and programs designed to aid the elderly with these expenses.
Life expectancy today has expanded in historically unprecedented proportions, greatly increasing the numbers of people who survive over the age of 65.
Therefore, the instances of medical problems associated with aging, such as certain kinds of cancer and heart disease, have increased, giving rise to greater consideration, both in research and in social programs, for accommodating this increase.
Certain aspects of sensory and perceptual skills, muscular strength, and certain kinds of memory tend to diminish with age, rendering older people unsuitable for some activities.
A significant factor in the social aspects of old age concerns the values and education of the generation itself.
In industrialized countries especially, where changes occur more rapidly than in agrarian societies, a generation born 65 years ago may find that the dominant mores, expectations, definitions of the quality of life, and roles of older people have changed considerably by the time it reaches old age.