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June 10, 1974

The Quality of Life in Later Years

JAMA. 1974;228(11):1424. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230360054031

The life of senior citizens was the subject of the Third Congress on the Quality of Life held recently in Chicago. Among those attending the congress were physicians and nurses, sociologists and psychologists, and economists and educators. On one of the panels even the senior citizens themselves were represented. I happened to overhear one young participant say to another, "Imagine, all of these oldsters have at one time been young, like us." Such a shocking realization! Yes, old people are young people who have lived longer, whose outlook on life may have changed with time, as have their social and economic conditions.

The point at which a person is considered old has not been set by biological criteria. Sixty-five has been declared —arbitrarily—the age of retirement, and the term "senior citizen" has been introduced to denote this fact. Statisticians say that by 1980 approximately 12% of the population of the