Definition of Elderly

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Conventionally, “elderly” has been defined as a chronological age of 65 years old or older, while those from 65 through 74 years old are referred to as “early elderly” and those over 75 years old as “late elderly” (Orimo et al, 2006).

Subjective Definition

However, the definition of elderly is subjective. It might vary depending on the diversity of a country’s development, social practice, geographical location and many other contributed factors.

Thus, there is still no mutual agreement regards to world standard on elderly’s definition in numerical criterion, but UN agreed cutoff age is 60+ years old to refer to the older population.

Geographical Influences

According to WHO (2010), most of the developed world countries have accepted and attribute the age of 65 years old as the definition of ‘elderly’.

Oppositely in developing countries, the age’s interpretation does not suit well to the countries policy characterization and ageing elucidation.

Retirement Age

The elderly definition also linked and associated with the retirement age where ones started to receive pension benefits (WHO, 2010; Thane, 1978).

In most developing country such as Malaysia, according to the The Minimum Retirement Age Act 2012, the new retirement age is now 60 years old and has been applied for all government service since 1st of July 2013.

However, there is exemption given by the Human Resources Ministry for a number of companies in private sectors where the retirement age is still at 55 years old.

Other Factors

Based on research done by Abdul Razak et al. (2013) and Sulaiman & Sohaimi (2010), both of the studies referred and considered mid 50s as young old due to several factors such as socio-economic pressure, smoking habit and others.


[1] Orimo, H., Ito, H., Suzuki, T., Araki, A., Hosoi, T., & Sawabe, M. (2006). Reviewing the definition of “elderly”. Geriatrics & gerontology international, 6(3), 149-158.
[2] WHO. (2010). Definition of an older or elderly person. Proposed Working Definition of an Older Person in Africa for the MDS Project.
[3] Thane, P. (1978). Muddled History of Retiring at 60 and 65. New Society, 45(826), 234-236.
[4] Abdul Razak, F. H., Razak, N. A., Wan Adnan, W. A., & Ahmad, N. A. (2013, September). How simple is simple: our experience with older adult users. In Proceedings of the 11th Asia Pacific Conference on Computer Human Interaction (pp. 379-387). ACM.
[5] Sulaiman, S., & Sohaimi, I. S. (2010, June). An investigation to obtain a simple mobile phone interface for older adults. In Intelligent and Advanced Systems (ICIAS), 2010 International Conference On (pp. 1-4). IEEE.

Juan is a Design & Tech Blogger with strong interest in digital art, human computer interaction, enterprise system and system automation.

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