Who are "persons of the third age"?

Yo veo y leo esto en CNN en español:

"...un centro para personas de la tercera edad"

Is "the third age" the final stage of life? Such as: personas de la primera edad son niños, personas de la segunda edad son desde 20-65 o semejante, y personas de la tercera edad son ancianos, a lo mejor?


3 Answers 3


It's a polite way of saying old people, and generally refers to those who are retired. Here's what the DRAE says:

edad. [...] tercera edad. 1. f. Período avanzado de la vida de las personas en el que normalmente disminuye la vida laboral activa. 2. f. Conjunto de personas que están en la tercera edad.


As said, it's the polite way to refer to long-lived people. They are considered to be in the third age when they reach the 60+ years old.

Third age people are not necessarily considered as retired ones. Many ones at that point of age have many disabilities, for example.

In my country we often call a person third age right away we see them walking with a crutch, but we don't refer to them as old man/woman, we politely do it by saying a third age person.


In many countries where many British live, including for example the UK and in my case, Spain, there exist organisations called "U3A". "U3A" is an abbreviation of University of the third age and are organisations for (mainly) retired people. Only the requirement to speak English is mandatory. The "U3A" organisations are social groups in which many activities can be enjoyed; for instance, Play bridge, Play tennis, Creative writing, photography group, sailing group etc


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