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Statisticians use data to calculate the median age of a population, that is, the number that marks the halfway point in a group’s age range. In the United States, the median age is about forty (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). That means that about half of the people in the United States are under forty and about half are over forty. This median age has been increasing, which indicates the population as a whole is growing older.

A cohort    is a group of people who share a statistical or demographic trait. People belonging to the same age cohort were born in the same time frame. Understanding a population’s age composition can point to certain social and cultural factors and help governments and societies plan for future social and economic challenges.

Sociological studies on aging might help explain the difference between Native American age cohorts and the general population. While Native American societies have a strong tradition of revering their elders, they also have a lower life expectancy because of lack of access to healthcare and high levels of mercury in fish, which is a traditional part of their diet.

Phases of aging: the young-old, middle-old, and old-old

In the United States, all people over eighteen years old are considered adults, but there is a large difference between a person who is twenty-one years old and a person who is forty-five years old. More specific breakdowns, such as “young adult” and “middle-aged adult,” are helpful. In the same way, groupings are helpful in understanding the elderly. The elderly are often lumped together to include everyone over the age of sixty-five. But a sixty-five-year-old’s experience of life is much different from a ninety-year-old’s.

The United States’ older adult population can be divided into three life-stage subgroups: the young-old (approximately sixty-five to seventy-four years old), the middle-old (ages seventy-five to eighty-four years old), and the old-old (over age eighty-five). Today’s young-old age group is generally happier, healthier, and financially better off than the young-old of previous generations. In the United States, people are better able to prepare for aging because resources are more widely available.

Also, many people are making proactive quality-of-life decisions about their old age while they are still young. In the past, family members made care decisions when an elderly person reached a health crisis, often leaving the elderly person with little choice about what would happen. The elderly are now able to choose housing, for example, that allows them some independence while still providing care when it is needed. Living wills, retirement planning, and medical power of attorney are other concerns that are increasingly handled in advance.

The graying of the united states

A tall man with white hair and moustache and glasses in casual business attire is shown flanked by two elderly women on his right and two elderly men on his left. The elderly people are all wearing blue T-shirts reading “Keep Social Security Strong: A A R P.” A banner in the background can also be seen, reading “Social Security Benefits America.”
As senior citizens begin to make up a larger percentage of the United States, the organizations supporting them grow stronger. (Photo courtesy of Congressman George Miller/flickr)

What does it mean to be elderly? Some define it as an issue of physical health, while others simply define it by chronological age. The U.S. government, for example, typically classifies people aged sixty-five years old as elderly, at which point citizens are eligible for federal benefits such as Social Security and Medicare. The World Health Organization has no standard, other than noting that sixty-five years old is the commonly accepted definition in most core nations, but it suggests a cut-off somewhere between fifty and fifty-five years old for semi-peripheral nations, such as those in Africa (World Health Organization 2012). AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) cites fifty as the eligible age of membership. It is interesting to note AARP’s name change; by taking the word “retired” out of its name, the organization can broaden its base to any older people in the United States, not just retirees. This is especially important now that many people are working to age seventy and beyond.

Questions & Answers

which distinguish between community and tribe
Shah Reply
Community is quite different from tribe....gemienschaft and gesselschaft
Mc
what is institution.... according to sociology..?
RAJES Reply
what does mean rationality according to j.habermas
Shah Reply
factors contributing to cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
What is cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
difference between urban and rural areas
Thabsile Reply
What does law in a society mean
Alisha Reply
What is socialization
Thabsile
socialization, is the behavioural process of human to adopt or acceptable in their various societies.From Moses Ebena
Hitmos
Which human being bcme social being
Lukman
I'm writing paper 2 bridging course final year so it also includes sociology plz help guys
Thabsile
Culture is a way of of people life
Lukman
ottways says that.... what in ur whole life that is cultue
Shah
law in a society mean rule of governing authority that allow and forbid the said acts.answer is for Alisha
Imtiyaz
what is social stratification plx give me answer
yasir
social stratification means social differentiation based on occupation, social status
Imtiyaz
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position
Mc
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position of social statificition
Rashmiranjan
social stratification is a kind of social diffrentation where by a society groups people into socio_ economic strata , based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status or derived power (social and Political).
Meer
plz tell me changing gender spaces in family ,work and its implications on the individual and society across culture?
Meer
I don't no
Rashmiranjan
what is society
yasir Reply
society means any geographical area where group of people share equal practice of living activities culture and other aspects
Imtiyaz
yes
Darlene
Or it is a group of persons,sharing self-sufficient system of action that is capable of lasting longer than the life span of any individual
Omar
sociology, deal on society,human social interaction with separate people and not only as individuals, for example school, churches and associations.
Hitmos
oh wow im just realizing theres a chat forum 😯
Tyrone
Yeah hi...
Max weber
Kelvine
what is the relevance of sociology
Alqaseem Reply
hi
Nath
hi
noumbisi
hello
Marc
how do u do?
noumbisi
hiiii
yasir
Hi, good evening. please can someone help me emphasized more on that religion?
Nath Reply
As sociologist we endorse anything that supports the continuity of society and harmonize the society and its elements is good... We don't really worry about the authenticity of its origin... If you have studies the sociological perspectives you will know that there are different views on religion..
look what each classical theorist have said about religion...
what is a religion
Zahid Reply
ll grade sociology ga notes h k
Sunil
Religion involve those things which surpasses the limit of our knowledge.
shoaib
religion is believe it one God
DAVE
What is Social Psychology? and why social psychology?
WILLIAM Reply
learn about the people and understand there need to live in society what there basic need and learning institutions
Ghulammurtaza
Social Psychology deals with the study of individual as part of a group or communty and how they affect each other.
Sadiq
behavior study of humans are there institutions are social psychology but if they are study about society that means the learn about there living structure
Ghulammurtaza
social psychology means it formed after combined sociology and psychology and itis new descipline.
salem
social psychology study behavior reference society
Rajesh
what is sociology?
Omeneke Reply
It's a field of study which studies about human Society... (to make you more clear... the psychology studies single individual where as sociology studies group of individual who forms society)
sociology is study of socity
Sadia
not only study but it study with scientific method and sociological approach
Rajesh
rite #rajesh sosa
Sadia
thanks
Rajesh
hey help me defining sociological guru's ideas
luther
what is culture
Nandala Reply
what is urbanisation
Nandala
What are the weaknesses of the conflict theory
Skeazo Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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