May 16, 2024 at 3:38 pm

A 25-Year Study Reveals What Age People Consider You “Old”

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

I feel like the answer to this question changes depending on the age of the person being asked.

Because when I was 20, I sure thought 40 was old.

Now, not so much.

Research finds that collectively, we think of old age as beginning later than ever before, but the trend can’t continue forever – can it?

A group of scientists from Germany, the States, and Luxembourg pored through data gathered from 14,000 people over a decade long survey. The participants were born between 1911 and 1974, spanning 7 generations.

Source: Shutterstock

They answered questions several times over a 25-year period.

The question at the center of the new paper was “At what age would you describe someone as old?”

When people aged 65 (born in 1911) answered this question, they answered 71.

When people aged 65 (born 1956) answered this question, they said 74.

Primary author Markus Wettstein issued a statement pondering the reason behind this.

“Life expectancy has increased, which might contribute to a later perceived onset of old age. Also, some aspects of health have improved over time, so that people of a certain age who were regarded as old in the past may no longer be considered old nowadays.”

Women put the threshold an average of two years later than men, and people who were in poorer health, were lonelier, or who “felt” older tended to place that magic number earlier as well.

“It is unclear to what extent the trend towards postponing old age reflects a trend towards more positive views on older people and aging, or rather the opposite – perhaps the onset of old age is postponed because people consider being old to be an undesirable state.”

Source: Shutterstock

Of course, these participants were German, and aging is viewed differently by varying cultures.

As humans are living longer than ever, the authors would also like to follow this and learn whether or not that “old” threshold is stretching further out as well.

This is super interesting.

I can’t comment further without telling you my age, and that’s definitely not happening.

If you thought that was interesting, you might like to read about 50 amazing finds on Google Earth.