Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Caducity - The Falling of Old Age

Caducity, Old age
Photo by Xavi Talleda


Noun. Mid-18th century.
[French caducité, from caduc from Latin caducus liable to fall, perishable, from cadere to fall.]

1 The infirmity of old age, senility. M18

2 generally. Tendency to fall; transitoriness; frailty. L18

3 LAW. The lapse of a testamentary gift. L19

Caducity is an incongruously pretty word for the ugly consequences of aging, including both general senility and the increased risk of falling. Anyone that's witnessed an elderly relative after a serious fall knows the impact it has on their confidence, as daily tasks like bathing or climbing the stairs suddenly become ominous and frightening. As for senility, and specifically senile dementia, the heartbreaking deterioration of a once-bright mind is one of the greatest tragedies of the human condition.

Do feel free to comment below.


  1. I am finally reaching the age where my perception of my parents is slowly changing as they ever steadily approach these consequences. I am thankful each day for their continued health and clarity of mind.

    1. I've lived in a different country to my parents for many years, Kara, and I remember the shock of one particular visit where they both seemed to have suddenly aged. It was horrible. Thankfully, however, my Dad, who is now in his 70s, is as strong, sharp and active as he ever was.

  2. It is a tragedy. My Nan had senile dementia which progressed into alzheimers and to watch her deteriorate into such physical frailty and with such childish behaviour was, as you aptly described, heartbreaking. It completely strips a person of their dignity. I think the thing that terrifies me the most is that in the minds of friends and family, you're slowly replacing all your best achievements and great moments with the more recent memories associated with the sadness of old age - constantly forgetting things; re-telling the same stories over and over until they grate; not being able to go anywhere unassisted; falling over and sometimes being physically unable to get up for hours until someone call in. Caducity is a tragedy.

    1. You've expressed that thought very poignantly, A.N. When I was choosing a picture for this post, I found an old picture of an elderly couple, and the man was wearing a medal (there was debate whether it was from the Crimean War or the American Civil War). However, when you first look at that picture, all you see is an old couple, and at him an old man. Somehow, his aging had erased everything he had done before - whatever stories he had, his achievements, adventures, accolades - all being replaced, as you aptly put it, by the advancement of age.

    2. I agree - powerfully written. I am so grateful to have not watched a loved one travel that path.