The Future of Getting Old: Rethinking Old Age

Future of Getting Old:

What defines an “old” person? As it turns out, the answer varies depending on your age. If you’re under 30, studies show you’re likely to say old age begins at 60. If you’re in your 40s and 50s, you might say 70. If you are 60 or 70, your definition of “old” might be 74 or above. Turns out we tend to feel younger the older we get-many people in their 80s report feeling 70.

Lifestyle markers of old age change as we age too. While most 18-29 year olds say forgetting names is a sign of old age, less than 50 percent of those older than 29 consider it a sign of aging. Having grandchildren is also something that younger people see as an “old” characteristic, but older individuals may not. The number of years we’ve lived, it seems, isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator for how we’ve aged.

Today, our perception of age is changing more than ever. Thanks to advancements in science, medicine and technology, we may be living longer – well into our 70s, 80s and even 90s – and accordingly we will need to continue to redefine what it means to be “old.” These advances also present an opportunity to start thinking about a not-too-distant future where aging may not mean losing vitality and functionality physically, mentally and emotionally but maintaining or even gaining it as members of a new generation making meaningful contributions to society.