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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.However, at about age 80, all people experience similar morbidity. The eyes are weak, the ears are deaf, the strength is disappearing because of weariness of the heart and the mouth is silent and cannot speak. "Decrepitude, which shrivels heroes, seemed worse than death." In ancient times, although some strong and healthy people lived until they were over 70 most died before they were 50.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.

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.In addition to chronological age, people can be considered old because of the other dimensions of old age.For example, people may be considered old when they become grandparents or when they begin to do less or different work in retirement.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".

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