Medicine and Old Age

Susannah Ottaway

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Medicine and Old Age


This article attempts to pull together recent developments and to summarize our knowledge of old age. It primarily focuses on the history of ageing in the West and compares it with other cultures. It concerns the limits and possible extension of the human life span. It includes discussion almost exclusively on male ageing. There are a few medical texts written specifically on female ageing and these focus primarily on menopause. Most studies of the history of ageing, and certainly those most relevant to the history of medicine deal with the demographic and social history of old age and a few larger works have framed the discussion of old age history more generally as centred on the question of continuity versus change in the historical expectations and experiences of old age. There is currently a burgeoning literature on pensions and on old age institutions.

Keywords: old age; life span; medicine; history; ageing

Article.  8635 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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