Ageing and senescence

Ageing is the process of becoming older. As people age, they also senesce, which means their bodies slowly start to fail as they approach the end of their lives.  This is why older people usually become weaker, their hearing and sight is less good, they stop producing children, and their hair turns grey.

For a long time people thought that senescence happened to all living things, but scientists have shown this is not true. Some species show no change in performance with age, and some even improve! How they manage to escape from senescence is a great puzzle in biology.

Yellow Baboon cartoon




About this resource

Science topic: Ageing, Senescence

Key Stage: KS2, KS3

Type: Information

Keywords: ageing, senescence, lifespan, death

Learn more about ageing and senescence with University of Oxford researcher Professor Roberto Salguero-Gomez

What is the difference between ‘lifespan’, ‘aging’ and ‘senescence’?

Why do scientists study aging, lifespan and senescence in different organisms?

How do scientists measure the ages of different species?

Why do different species have such different lengths of lifespan?

Do bigger things have longer lifespans?

Do you think people will ever be able to live forever?