People chronologically advanced in age suffer substantial disadvantages caused by biological ageing. In favourable societal circumstances, however, the aged would be able to enjoy a considerable period of good health, well-being and self-fulfilment, and to continue to contribute to societal activities; in fact, most cannot do so because of unfavourable conditions, particularly poverty. Their often premature physiological decline severely restricts the extent to which they can contribute to society; and further restrictions arise from societal conditions. In harsh economic situations, respect for age declines substantially, and the commercialization of peasant farming deprives the aged of their traditional role as policy and decision-makers. With the breakdown of the family and of community institutions, the aged suffer isolation and lack of motivation.