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The concept of human dignity covers the entire span of life. The deprivations to which this article addresses itself are those imposed upon individuals because of advanced chronological age. Though the plight of the elderly varies from community to community and from culture to culture, the deprivations, consciously or unconsciously imposed upon the elderly, have become increasingly apparent as aged segments in the community continue to expand significantly, especially in highly industrialized societies.

The unique deprivation of the aged today takes the form of compulsory (involuntary) retirement from active work life, regardless of an individual's actual mental and physical capacities, as enforced by a blanket age limitation. Alternatively, the deprivation may be imposed by denying employment opportunity to individuals over a specified age that may vary according to the occupation. Age-based compulsory retirement tends to precipitate or accentuate the syndromes of aging, generating many value deprivations that could otherwise be avoided or mitigated. "Compulsory retirement," in the words of Eglit, "is just another name for discrimination."

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