Although ageing is a process that presents new possibilities, it is also accompanied by a set of unfamiliar challenges. As people age, they face a combination of physical, emotional and material problems that can be difficult to negotiate.
One challenge that marks a significant transition is retirement. For most people, work does not just pay the bills; it also contributes to their sense of personal identity.
In this case, retirement does not only lead to a loss of income; it can also lead to a loss of status to which many people find it difficult to adjust. Another significant transition that many older people face is the loss of a spouse. Widowhood can represent the loss of a partner of 40 or 50 years, and someone who has been the main source of companionship and support.
The older population reflects the diversity within societies. Older people are rich, poor and in between; they belong to all ethnic groups; they live alone and in families of various sorts; they vary in their political values and preferences; and they are gay and lesbian as well as heterosexual. Furthermore, like other people, they are diverse with respect to health. These differences can influence the ability of older people to maintain their autonomy and overall well being.