Sunday 26 March 2023

Thursday 23 March 2023

Redefining the elderly as aged 75 years and older: Proposal from the Joint Committee of Japan Gerontological Society and the Japan Geriatrics Society

In many countries, including Japan, the elderly are defined as having a chronological age of 65 years or older. However, there is no clear medical or biological evidence to support this definition. Recently, this definition of the elderly has come to not match the current situation in Japan, although there are individual differences in the elderly. 

Many of the elderly, especially aged those younger than 75 years, are still robust and active. Many people feel hesitant to treat them as elderly, and many of them feel uncomfortable being treated as elderly. Based on these reasons, in 2013, the Japan Gerontological Society and the Japan Geriatrics Society launched a joint committee to reconsider the definition of the elderly, and discussed the definition of the elderly from various aspects for 3 years. As a result of analyzing various data on the physical and psychological health of the elderly in recent years, a phenomenon of “rejuvenation” has been seen in which the appearance of changes in physical function as a result of aging, including gait speed and grip strength (Fig. 1), have been delayed by 5–10 years among the elderly at present compared with 10–20 years ago.1 Even among those aged 65 years or older who have been regarded as elderly, especially the young-old aged 65–74 years, mental and physical health is well maintained, and the majority of them are capable of taking part in active social activities. Furthermore, according to the results of various awareness surveys, the opinion against recognizing those aged 65 years or older as elderly is generally gaining strength in society as well (Fig. 2).2 According to the survey carried out by the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Government, many people think that those aged over 70 or 75 years should be considered elderly.2 Therefore, our joint committee would like to propose a classification of people aged over 65 years as follows.

Aged from 65 to 74 years: pre-old age 
Aged over 75 years: old age

In addition, people aged over 90 years can be classified as oldest-old or super-old. 

This definition mainly takes into consideration the aging situation of developed countries, but we believe that if the extension of life expectancy and “rejuvenation” phenomenon spreads globally, it is a concept that will be globally accepted. In contrast, with the global extension of life expectancy, it is appropriate to think of those aged over 90 years who have surpassed the average life expectancy as oldest-old/super-old according to the previous definition.  

The significance of re-examining the definition and classification of the elderly is: (i) to consider the elderly according to the previous definition as motivated supporters of society once again; and (ii) to create an upcoming super-aged society with brightness and vitality. However, the trend towards improved physical ability in the elderly is not guaranteed to continue into the future, indicating the need to educate the next generation on the promotion of health once again. As for policy implication, our proposal might lead to the revision of social security policy, because many pre-old people can contribute to productivity and reduce the socioeconomic burden of the younger generation. However, we would like to emphasize that this proposal does not intend to provide a political basis for shrinking social welfare for pre-old and old people. 

We hope that our proposal will contribute to the realization of our citizens’ desire to construct a bright, productive, healthy and long-living society. (Ouchi et al., 2017, literally)

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- Yasuyoshi Ouchi, Hiromi Rakugi, Hidenori Arai, Masahiro Akishita, Hideki Ito, Kenji Toba, Ichiro Kai, 2017, on behalf of the Joint Committee of Japan Gerontological Society (JGLS) and Japan Geriatrics Society (JGS) on the definition and classification of the elderly, link
- photograph Greg Girard (Tokyo, 1979, two school girls) via

Monday 20 March 2023

The Ageing Body of an Actor and the Only Answer to the Question: "Bothered by the required nudity?"

“It didn’t matter to me because it’s the only body I’ve got. At least it was a reality. An aging body, to people who are not old, this is what’s going to happen to you. So don’t get too smart about it.” 

photographs by Brian Duffy via

Friday 17 March 2023

"Sad to be at a stage in your life where you have to play 'old people'?"

“The only alternative to playing old people is playing dead people. I’ll pick elderly people. I have three grandchildren and I live for them. But also, I remember, I once read a script and I sent the script back [to the producer] saying the part was too small. He sent it back to me saying, ‘I did not want you to read the lover. I wanted you to read the father.’ And that’s when my career changed. I suddenly realized I wasn’t going to get the girl anymore. But I was going to get the part, and I really did get some parts.” 
Michael Caine

photograph via

Thursday 16 March 2023

Quoting Paul Robeson

"Here we were born and here we will stay." 
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)

"Well, I am the son of an emancipated slave and the stories of old father are vivid on the tablets of my memory." 

"My father was a slave and my people died to build this country and I am going to stay here and have a part of it just like you." 

"This United States Government should go down to Mississippi and protect my people. That is what should happen." 

"To fight for participation in the forward march of humanity." 

"The history of the capitalist era is characterized by the degradation of my people." 

"I am being tried for fighting for the right of my people." 

"I've learned that my people are not the only ones oppressed." 

"I am here because I am opposing the Neo-Fascist cause, which I see arising here in these committees." 

"As an artist, I come to sing, but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace, and no one can silence me in this." 

"I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism."

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photograph via

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Demarcating "Old Age"

"Old age" is what is defined as "old age" and the perception very much depends on the age of the persons asked. In a study, participants (n=300, 150 men and 150 women, mean age 58.8) were interviewed using a quetionnaire on the age perceived as old. 

According to the sample, 73.7 years is the lower bound of "old age" (answers ranged from 45 to 100 years). A closer look at the participants' age shows an impact their age had on their definition: Participants under 65 reported 70.5 years to be the beginning of old age while participants over 65 marked 77.4 as the beginning of old age - a difference of almost 7 years. In other words, the older a particpant, the later the beginning of old age. 

Men perceived old age 3 years before women and those reporting good health perceived it 3.9 years earlier than those with excellent health. In fact, health deterioration was "the most reported factor in the perception of old age" (Daignault, Wassef & Nguyen, 2021).

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- Daignault, M., Wassef, A. & Nguyen, Q. D. (2021). How old is old? Identifying a chronological age and factors related with the perception of old age. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 69(11), 3330-3333.
- photograph by the great Vivian Maier via