Redefining “old”

This is a re-post from The Telegraph, a UK news source. It’s about how the current generation of “older adults” are redefining what aging and what old means. This has been a hot topic in the field of Gerontology over the past decade or so, and there is a growing popular opinion that “old” doesn’t begin until age 75, whereas it currently is defined as starting at age 65.

65 year olds are considered “young-old” by Gerontology definition. This definition is based on former UK retirement age programs. The United Nations defines “old” as starting with age 60, and the WHO has even defined “old” as starting at age 50 for certain studies on aging in Africa (where life expectancy is lower than in Western countries). And, of course, if you ask people who are younger than 25, many of them will say that “old” starts in your 30s or 40s – ah, the follies of youth!

The interesting part is that in recent years, people are living healthy and active lives well into their 70s or 80s, and many are not retiring until after age 65. This is causing us to redefine “old” not only based on retirement ages, but also on the lives that people are living.

Popular Gerontology definitions of “old”:

Young-old:  ages 65-74

Middle-old:  ages 75-84

Oldest-old:  ages 85+

I am always a little happy inside when I hear people say, “I’m old” and I get to tell them that by definition, the earliest that one is considered old is age 65. Especially when they are under age 60. And I think they are a little happy inside to hear that as well 🙂

Middle age now lasts until 74 as baby boomers refuse to grow old

Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population

Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population

Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population Photo: Alamy