How Old Is Old?

by Matilda Charles


When do we seniors finally reach old age? The answer depends on who we

ask, and when.


Back in 2009, Pew Research did a survey, and the average answer was at 68

years old … unless the person being asked was under 30. Then “old age”

struck before age 60, said the youngsters. Those who were already age 65

said old age didn’t arrive until age 74. The result was even disputed by

sex; when all ages were averaged, women said age 70, and men said age 66.

The top four answers to the question about becoming old netted conflicting

mile markers: 1) Turns 85; 2) can’t live independently; 3) can’t drive; 4)

turns 75.


Here’s a smile: A U.K. study done four years ago pegs the end of youth at

35 and the beginning of old age at 58. In Portugal, it was age 29 when

youth ended. (Did you feel middle aged at 30?)


Fast-forward to now: Similar research shows that those over 40 think “old

age” starts at age 80. My, how things have changed. Seems that retirement

doesn’t automatically put us in the old age category, at least for those

who are decades younger than we are.


Perhaps it’s how we’re living now that makes a difference in perceptions

of age. Our parents might have sat back after retirement at age 65, taken

on at-home hobbies, napped in the afternoon and called it good. We’re

out there in the world traveling, being active, working out, texting

the grandkids, learning musical instruments, acting in local theater,

volunteering, joining clubs — and often still working. At this point,

36 percent of us don’t think we’ll retire at age 65 — maybe because we



Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.


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(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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