Survey Says Old Age Starts At 80

Julia Little  |  July 7, 2014

It used to be that anything past retirement age was considered old, but attitudes are changing, pushing the definition of old age back much later. U.K. news site SWNS reported that a study funded by insurance provider found that the average person now thinks that old age begins much later.

Survey on seniors
The survey polled 2,000 people over 40 on questions such as what age is considered old and what the most common signs of aging are. Most respondents answered that old age does not begin until 80, which is much later than previous studies have placed the cutoff. Some people polled said that old age was even farther off, with 20 percent responding that it began at 90. Only 17 percent said that old age started at any age before 70. Interestingly, respondents to the survey said that, had they been asked 30 years ago, they would have put the average starting point for old age at just 63.

Old age getting older
A number of factors contributed to the changing definition of old age. As people maintain healthy habits later in life and retire later, the perception of what constitutes "old" has changed accordingly. Almost two-thirds of respondents said that people leading active lifestyles longer had the biggest impact on the newly reckoned old age.

What's in an age?
However, the survey also revealed that people put less importance on age in general than they used to. 82 percent of people said that they felt an average of 11 years younger than their actual age, while 93 percent agreed with the adage that "you're only as old as you feel."

Modern seniors are doing a lot to confirm that saying. In recent years, programs have been started across the U.S. and around the world to encourage older adults to be more engaged in hobbies from playing musical instruments to getting outdoors.

Seniors staying active
The Washington Post recently reported on a program to get seniors in London involved with parkour, an acrobatic sport most often associated with young people climbing walls and jumping from roof to roof. Seniors in the U.K. capitol practiced a more leisurely version of the activity, which had them performing feats such as balancing on ledges and spinning on benches. The exercises are designed to help them maintain mobility, helpful for a population expected to live longer and more productive lives than any previous generation.

Senior communities are also doing their part to expand the range of activities available to their residents. At Sunrise Senior Living communities across the U.S., U.K. and Canada, programming is designed to help support the minds, bodies and spirits of all who live there. Some options, such as language classes, allow residents to take part in life-long learning, gaining new skills while maintaining mental flexibility.

Other activities at Sunrise Senior Living communities can also have benefits beyond the expected. Exercises such as walking and dancing, which are primarily used to maintain physical fitness in older adults, can have far-reaching effects on senior care. Many studies have shown that these physical activities can positively impact mood, allowing seniors to live happier as well as healthier lives. Pursuing more hobbies in general can also help to ward off depression and leave the people who practice them feeling more fulfilled.

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