The 21st century has been called the Century of Ageing.
Our world is ageing rapidly. By 2050 more than 1 in 5 of us will be over 60.
For the first time in human history there will be more over 60s than children under 15.
Most of the world's older people live in developing countries. Yet definitions, expectations, and the problems of old age are changing rapidly.
So what is it like to be old in today's world?
In this four part series, Jane Little meets Third Agers from four continents to find out.
Some women wear Prada and enjoy sensuous beauty treatments, while their contemporaries elsewhere bring up grandchildren orphaned by Aids.
In this programme, Jane meets some extraordinary women who've given old age a whole new meaning.
They include an 81-year-old Hungarian-born ballerina who now lives in the US, and three generations of women in Beijing who reveal surprising insights into Chinese family life.
Jane catches a first glimpse of what it really means to be old in different parts of the world.
What challenges do these communities and individuals face, and how can they be met?
First broadcast Monday 2 March 2009