This article originally appeared on AlterNet
When would you say old age begins? Is it a number, a feeling, a set of habits or an attitude? The idea of old age used to be calibrated around retirement age, the age around which so-called productive (read salaried) work ended. But, nowadays, either because they can’t or, in luckier cases, don’t have to, lots of people aren’t retiring at 60 or 65 or even 68.
So, maybe some redefinition is required. If 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 50, and millenials are having mid-life crises, it seems the time may be ripe to rethink old age—at least for those who don’t do back-breaking manual labor for decades.
Not too long ago, a study revealed that most people define old age as 68. But a study that came out this week revealed a vastly different take: that old age really doesn’t begin until 80. Whoa!
The study was commissioned by comparison website PayingTooMuch.com, which asked 2,000 Britons over the age of 40 what they considered old. Their average answer, 80, was practically two decades later than what earlier generations have said.
The researchers reasoned that, yeupp, delayed retirement, more active lifestyles and people personally knowing of vital and active octogenarians must be the reason.
Either that or wishful thinking.
Celebs like Regis Philbin, Angela Lansbury and Cloris Leachman and Noam Chomsky have all kept on keeping on in their careers and in the spotlight into their 80s.
Even people who actually get to retire are doing more: ”For many, retirement is the start of a whole new chapter and pensioners are traveling the world, taking up new hobbies and in some cases, leading more active and exciting lifestyles than when they were younger,” a spokesman for PayingTooMuch.com told the Daily Mail.
So napping and knitting are out, going to the gym and traveling the world are in. Unless, of course, you can’t afford it. Remember, in Britain, retirees are called pensioners for a reason. They draw a pension. Fewer and fewer Americans have that option. Expectations of retirement age have drastically changed, too: In 1991, only 11 percent of workers anticipated they’d work past 65. In 2013, it was up to 36 percent, according to Huffington Post.
Of course, there is a real subjective aspect to people’s beliefs about what defines “old,” with 93 percent saying, “You are only as old as you feel.” People who feel well generally report feeling 11 years younger than their biological age. And most people who feel healthy tend to also say that old age is a long way off.
The new survey said, one in five Britons believe people can even hit 90 before being thought of as old. Deluded? Perhaps age is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, other studies have come up with very different conclusions, like one in 2010 which revealed that the average person believes youth ends at 35 and old age begins at 58. That means the years in between — all 23 of them — constitute middle age. So, ouch!
Here, according to SWNS.com, an independent newswire in Great Britain are the dreaded signs of ‘old age:’ (Chances are, no matter what your age, you’ll recognize yourself in a few of these. Like, who isn’t forgetful from time to time? And plenty of people of all ages choose clothing for comfort rather than style. So, take it with a large grain of salt.)
1. You fall asleep watching TV or reading the paper
2. You become forgetful
3. You groan when getting up from a chair or out of bed
4. You say ‘back in my day’
5. You choose clothes for comfort rather than style
6. You repeat yourself
7. You have no idea what is in the music charts
8. You insist ‘things aren’t as they used to be’
9. You choose places to eat because they play quiet music
10. You have an afternoon nap
11. You don’t know the names of current celebrities
12. People offer you a seat on public transport
13. You prefer to stay in rather than go out drinking
14. You have a low tolerance for teenagers
15. You forget where your glasses are
16. Choosing to meet friends for lunch or dinner rather than a night out for drinks
17. Choosing a cup of tea over an alcoholic drink
18. Wear slippers all the time
19. You watch ‘old’ TV shows like Antiques Roadshow
20. You spend weekends or bank holidays in garden centres
21. Gardening is a hobby
22. You only listen to music from your youth
23. You don’t hesitate to complain about poor customer service
24. You always take an umbrella or coat out with you, just in case
25. You get a haircut to ‘suit your age’