Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged older people to embrace their years with a happy heart.
Speaking during a visit to a retirement home in Rome on Monday, the Pope said it was "beautiful to be elderly".
According to Zenit news agency, he contrasted the way in which long life was regarded as a blessing in the Bible, to the modern attitude "dominated by the logic of efficiency and profit" that suggests older people are useless.
While many people today dread the prospect of growing old, Pope Benedict suggested there was much to be happy about.
"It is necessary to discover in every age the presence and blessing of the Lord and the riches it contains," he said.
"We must never let ourselves be imprisoned by sadness. We received the gift of a long life.
"It is lovely to live also at our age, despite some 'aches and pains' and some limitations.
"On our face there must always be the joy of feeling ourselves loved by God, never sadness," he said.
The Pope said more must be done by society to enable older people to live out their years in their own home.
"The wisdom of life, of which they are bearers, is a great richness. The quality of a society, I would say of a civilisation, is also judged by the way the elderly are treated and the place given to them in ordinary living.
"Those who make room for the elderly make room for life. Those who received the elderly receive life."
He went on to suggest that older people have a special gifting in being able to share the love of God with others.
"Feel yourselves loved by God and be able to bring to our society, often so individualistic and efficient, a ray of the love of God," he said.
"And God will be with you always and with all those who support you with their affection and help."