1 minute read


Rates Of Aging, Measuring Human Aging, Structuring The Life Course, Metaphors Of Aging

We tend to think of aging in terms of human beings living in time, and, in particular, as the chronology of human experience in later life. But human aging is set in a much wider context, encompassing the biological, geological, and cosmological spheres. Aging is the elegant and continuous means by which the forces of nature, from the microscopic to the universal, create the conditions for regeneration. Many scholars consider aging to be a great equalizer, because it submits all forms of matter, including biological life, to a common set of principles. In human life, there are forms of aging not tied to the individual life course, but to human creations and even whole societies. Buildings become beautiful through weathering; furniture gains a fine patina and great value as it ages; and wines and cheeses are deliberately aged through intricate processes of fermenting, ripening, curing, and storing to enhance their flavor. As for societies across time, they take on the status of "civilizations" if they trace their ancestry and lasting achievements across an extensive span, such as "Old World" European or Asian societies as compared to "New World" countries such as Canada or the United States. The concept of aging, grounded in the realities of both the biological and nonliving material worlds, has thus inspired the human artistic and cultural imagination for millennia.


American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (www.aarp.org).

Administration on Aging (www.aoa.dhhs.gov).

GeroWeb (www.iog.wayne.edu/GeroWeb).

The Gerontological Society of America (www.geron.org).

The National Aging Information Center (www.ageinfo.org).

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 1