Why Do We Die Of Old Age? Can It Really Be A Cause Of Death?

Tanya Parkhi
Feb 04, 2023 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Health visitor talking to a senior woman during home visit
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

When someone old dies, you'll often hear their family members saying they died of old age.

However, is this the case? Can people die of old age, or is it due to other factors?

People die everyday. It is the final step in the natural journey of life. However, have you ever thought about how long people could live if their bodies lasted forever?

The deterioration of the body can occur due to old age, however old age itself is not a cause of death alone. If you liked this article, do check our other articles why do we stretch and why do people breathe into paper bags.

Can old age be a cause of death?

Though old age can be one of the reasons leading to a persons death, the actual cause of death is never old age.

As we keep ageing, the natural wear and tear of the body increases.

Along with age, the self-healing capabilities of our body go on decreasing, which makes it more difficult for it to react in times of disease and distress.

When an older person is afflicted by an ailment such as a certain disease or disorder such as a blood clot, heart problems or blood pressure, the body's weakening immune system as well as the slower regeneration of cells may not naturally heal or support the body as well as they used to, ultimately causing the heart to stop - which leads to death.

When it is said that someone died of old age, it simply means that their body was unable to take the stress of working any more and the presence of one or the other ailment put pressure on their heart and caused failure, and is not considered as an official cause of death.

The heart simply does not stop beating due to old age, rather there is always a preexisting condition or comorbidity behind it which affects it and causes it to weaken.

The causes of death written on the death certificate are then written as organ failure, heart attack or whichever other reason caused the patients body to cease working.

At what age does the body start to deteriorate?

The effects of natural aging on our body can be noticed at as soon as 30 years old! As we continue aging, there occurs a significant amount of wear and tear in our bodies which causes the illusion of 'aging'.

Aging occurs due to the decline of the bodies natural healing capacity and ability to regenerate lost cells, which causes sagging skin, weaker muscles and less resistance to ailments that naturally affect the body such as weaker memory, weaker eyesight, high blood pressure, blood clots.

The aging process starts slowly as we enter our thirties, and speeds up over time, becoming more prominent. Various factors in our environment constantly affect our bodies, and the declining function of our bodies' natural defense allows them to affect us as we age.

However, it is important to note that though aging does weaken our immune systems considerably, it does not mean that disease is imminent. It simply means that it is easier for disease to strike many older people due to these developments.

The physical qualities of the aging process become more prominent as we get older, however the effects on the internal mechanisms are not.

This often depends on the persons lifestyle as well, regular exercise and a good healthy diet is needed to keep our body working in the best condition.

If a person indulges in self-destructive behavior such as leading a lethargic lifestyle, excessive smoking and drinking, binging on unhealthy foods and not taking care of their body, it tends to speed up the aging process and put them at risk of problems such as having a heart attack, blood clots or diabetes.

All these, though being the exact same things which affect people dying of 'old age', are brought on earlier due to unhealthy habits in life.

Elderly Asian father and Adult son

Is it painful to die of old age?

The answer is not as simple as death being painful or not. The causes of death in old age vary a lot, and people may lose consciousness as they pass into the afterlife or feel immense pain when dying.

In the case of heart disease, having a heart attack can be very painful for the patient.

In other cases like dementia, or if the person is unconscious before dying or on heavy medication, it is unlikely that they feel much pain.

If the cause of death is sudden such as an aneurysm caused by a blood clot or devastating heart attack, the person is likely to pass instantly, before any pain can be registered by the body.

When it is said that an elderly person has died peacefully in their sleep, that may not be the case. Depending on the cause behind the persons death, they may have simply passed in their sleep due to internal organ failure or been awake due to the pain, the death unfortunately occurring at the time they were in bed.

Elderly people with terminal diseases or those at risk of dying within a predicted time frame may experience much pain in their final days as their body slowly shuts down. This mostly happens to people with cancer, genetic disorders or deficiencies.

There is only so much that modern medicine can do to help these patients, and while it can help ease the pain for a while, it may not be able to stop the condition from spreading completely.

What is the average 'old age' lifespans across the world?

Modern medicine and the rise of a generation of more knowledgeable, highly skilled doctors means that people are now healthier than ever. Most diseases and conditions can now be treated easily, due to which the average lifespan is much more than what it was years ago.

People are more knowledgeable about their health, recognize symptoms of potentially deadly diseases easily, and get timely treatment from doctors.

The stress of being health conscious and leading a better, healthy lifestyle has gotten people more concerned about their well-being. Taking care of one's body in its prime leads to having much more energy in one's older years.

The current life expectancy of a human is 79 years on average.

The advancement of medicine, as well as safe and healthy living conditions in first world countries such as Hong Kong, Japan and Switzerland, has led to a high expectancy of around 85 years, whereas in poorer countries the life expectancy of older people is between 50-60 years only!

One's surroundings, diet and lifestyle significantly impact one's health, which varies from country to country.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we die of old age, then why not take a look at why do we classify organisms or why do my joints crack?

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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