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Britons Say Old Age Begins at 59

Old Age or Loss of Youth: What Do We Really Fear?

If 50 is the new 30, then 30 is the new 10, and I'm going out to play. But, alas, 50 is 50 — anything else is a marketing dream — and Britons say 59 is elderly. Age may just be number, but old age depends on what country you're in (like a 10 p.m. sunset in Canada). The French say it's 63, Greeks say 68, and Turks are young at heart until 72. These numbers, though, really tell us more about how the young see age than how the old feel it.

Old age, 10-year-old Wikipedia says, is an age that is near or beyond the average lifespan. That means Britons shouldn't feel old until about 80.1, while Turks are right on schedule, feeling old at 73 just after surpassing their 72.1 expiration date. Since the study, Predictors of Attitudes to Age Across Europe, did not include the US, we can't say for sure what Americans deem old; however, if going by the average-lifespan rule, old age commences at 78.7. Mark your calendars!

I only ponder "what qualifies as old age?" while on public transportation and evaluating if a person is really old enough to relinquish my seat to, so I can't say exactly, but I'd bet it starts well before 78. Jessica Alba, who just turned 30, recently talked to PopSugar LA about her esthetician friend, saying "even if I don't really need a facial she comes over and makes me look younger." How much younger can a 30-year-old look?

I imagine old age to be freeing à la Betty White — like if you make it that far then who cares? Because, like Jessica Alba, what I really fear is losing my youth; once that's gone, bring it! What about you?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
jazzytummy jazzytummy 6 years
"Personally, I think being so identified with an age group now doesn't bode well for growing older with an open and welcoming mindset". Bingo, stephley. But unfortunately it is the case that most younger generations think that they are more worldly, more informed, and in general, more tolerant than previous ones. As someone who's mother's uncles served in the Phillipines during World War II, I personally find this attitude beyond arrogant. Many of these people have contributed so much more to the world than a better version of Guitar Hero. I know people in their teens and twenties who are racist as hell. Painting an entire generation as arrogant is arrogant in itself. Honestly, if SKG feels this way now, she WILL become one of those people she already detests.
stephley stephley 6 years
"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be... This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on." - Madeleine L'Engle
EvieJ EvieJ 6 years
The problem, spacekatgal, is that POP culture is really not the way to stay relevant. Do I care if my grandparents know that Jennifer Lawrence is playing Katniss? No. Do I care that my dad's favorite car was the first one he bought himself in 1960-whatever? No. Do I care that my aunt cannot name one Lady Gaga or whomever song? No. I get what you're saying about gay rights, but a lot of times, it's more a conservative/liberal (not necesssarily Republican/Democrat, although it tends to fall that way) thing than an age thing. I'm older by far than my niece and am much more liberal than she is, and much more accepting of others. Part of that is how she was raised, part of it is that she's just young (18) and doesn't understand people are different. And my dad (72) is a bigger feminist than my brother (42). And I'm a bigger celeb-whore than my aforementioned niece and I'm twice her age. Most people who are close-minded aren't that way because of their age.
stephley stephley 6 years
" I think our general decency and understanding of civil rights, gay rights and women's rights is exponentially more empathetic" Have you read a newspaper lately??? Someone's letting voting rights, women's rights and gay rights be rolled back brutally across the country. Technology is great but you also have to ask yourself if and how it enriches your life - and not just embrace the new for its newness. I like cell phones but anyone who has had a yoga or meditation class interrupted by one can tell you they present a new kind of problem. Personally, I think being so identified with an age group now doesn't bode well for growing older with an open and welcoming mindset. Today's tea partiers were the 60s hippies.
isahrangme isahrangme 6 years
wow spacekatgal, you are very bitter about becoming old one thing i learned in an AP psych class a few years back, which could very well be not true by now, was that the ABILITY to learn decreases as you age. which means, that older people learn slower, NOT that they can't learn at all! but imagine being older and seeing all this new technology (which advances faster and faster!) and not being able to keep up! it is definitely challenging. but i know a LOT of older people who do keep up (and also a lot who don't). maybe they're a little behind, there's some lag perhaps, but like people above said, so many grandparents/parents video-chat, or text, send e-cards, have FACEBOOK! and how people view gay rights, women's rights, civil rights... i guess YEA, you could draw lines between age groups, but there are also strong divisions on those subjects based on region and religion! maybe all the old people you know who disagree with you on those views are also just in certain areas and believe in certain theologies? also, stephley, when you mentioned blackberries, i TOTALLY thought of the FRUIT! hahahahaha! i'm 24 and glad to know that in my brain still, blackberry is a fruit and not a phone. and i used a blackberry smartphone for almost 2 years! but the fruit is just so much better YUM! and regarding hostels and campgrounds, i totally would do it! well i have never been in a hostel, but it is something i wouldn't mind experiencing. and camping, i love! but even if i stayed as healthy as i could, the healthy me at 24 won't break bones as easily as a healthy me at 80. and THAT sucks because then i would be more limited in what i could do so aging, i really hope to do it gracefully. i have no problem with my hair changing color. i hope that all the wrinkles on my face show the adventures of my life! (smile wrinkles, survival wrinkles aka worry wrinkles) but i also hope i can keep being adventurous and brave, inside AND out
EvieJ EvieJ 6 years
@Pistil: If that's a true statement, and not sarcasm, I think a bit of remedial history would do you a world of wonder. Just because someone didn't grow up with the technology we now have, doesn't make them a lesser person. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that someone of my parents' generation - those born during WW2 - are better than we are. THEY were the bra-burners, the civil rights marchers, the ones who actually got out and did something, don't fool yourself into thinking it's your generation, spacekatgal. You might be more accepting of gay rights, but please don't act like y'all are the first ones to stand up for others. They are the ones who have a lifetime of using systems and methodologies which are now outdated, but are learning (all the ones I know) to use the current ones. They weren't taught computers in school - they've taught themselves, or taken it upon themselves to go to a class to learn - growing and evolving.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
Obviously our generation is far superior to previous ones. That's not arrogance, just reality. Now get off my lawn. Our grandparents didn't grow up with technology the way we did, and I think we're accustomed to it's pace (version X.0 every 6 months). I don't imagine you'll have to worry about that aspect of aging, skg. I hope old age is more free than miserable. Otherwise, to quote the Who nearly 50 years ago, I hope I die before I get old.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
wow, i'm so glad that the older people i know are nothing like what spacekat is talking about. I'm also very sure that our generation will be talking about the good old days and resistant to change. To quote Roger Sterling: "I bet there were people walking around in the Bible complaining about kids today."
stephley stephley 6 years
None of the issues you cite Spacekat, are Age Dependent- you seem to know a lot of cranky people. Sadly, if you think your generation won't be as arrogant when you are older, you'll have to start fixing that now. Perhaps what you see as arrogance in people older than you now is confidence that comes with accomplishment. We chat regularly via skype with 91-year old midwest grandmother, 70-year old attorneys I work with all have blackberries, I know 80+ year olds on Facebook & Twitter (who don't rely on grandchildren to post for them). I'm not sure that keeping up with fads in culture are necessarily life enhancing at any age, but again, it's a grotesque generalization to say all or even most elderly people are unaware of current musical or other entertainment trends – few people of any age group are aware of all changes. And without some old poop’s bankroll, most new groups wouldn’t get out of the garage.
EvieJ EvieJ 6 years
@spacekatgal: I had to re-read your post as the first time through I got a little annoyed thinking you were being a bit, well, ageist. But I read it again, and I think what you're saying is that it's important to grow and evolve, and keep up with new things in the world, which is true. I do hope you know some "older" women who are not as you describe - I have a feeling I fall in that age category, and dread to think anyone would feel that way about me. But do please keep an open mind - it could be that these older women have more on their minds than learning new operating systems or watching TV!
stephley stephley 6 years
If youth is all about sleeping in hostels & campgrounds, I wouldn't miss it!
EvieJ EvieJ 6 years
Well said, everyone. My MIL is 10 years younger than my mother. MIL constantly dreads every birthday, and in fact said she'd rather be dead than turn 60 (I can but dream, but that's another topic). She smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and is about 15 pounds overweight. My mother drinks maybe 3 glasses of wine a week, never smokes, watches her weight and is very active. She's accepted that she's almost 70, but refuses to let life pass her by just because of a number. Having said all that: watching my 18-year old niece blossom has made me nostalgic for my youth!
jazzytummy jazzytummy 6 years
Age is relative, health is not. I see many out of shape unhealthy people in their 20's and 30's and likewise often see very fit people in their 40s-60s. Obviously as you age, you may become somewhat limited in the things that you can physically do, but honestly, it is true that if you have your health, you have just about everything.
isahrangme isahrangme 6 years
i fear losing my youth! and yea, you can still be smart, funny, sexy at any age, but it'd be a lot harder (not impossible, but harder) to go backpack across europe and sleep in hostels/campgrounds at 70 than at 20. shoot, apparently even FLYING is harder at an older age! :[ hence the reason my grandmother can't visit us in la from korea
stephley stephley 6 years
Beyond childhood, I think we really need to stop focusing on age because it isn’t helpful – and it even handicaps kids at times. Your body ages, but you don’t have to ‘lose your youth.’ That’s what makes women like Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Betty White & Cloris Leachman stand out – they didn’t give in to the notion that once a woman reaches an age where men don’t think of them as sexual, she should stay in the background. They’re smart, funny, sexy – younger in spirit than a lot of women born decades after them.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
I think we fear that the opportunities that are associated with youth are closed.
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