I suppose at age 62 I'm older, but I also know that if I make it to my 80s I'll look and think how young I was at this age. In general, I would say 50s are getting older, menopause and the change in hormones speed up the aging process big time. Certainly in my 20s and 30s I thought women in their 50s and 60s were sort of hopelessly old but now I laugh at the idea, life is good and I am happy. It doesn't bother me that younger people see me as old, it is only natural. What is surprising is how youthful people in their late 40s are appearing to me -- this only started in the last year or two.

Both my parents are still alive at age 94, still active and appear younger than their years. Definitely the fact I still have parents (and am visiting them right now) makes me feel "like a kid".

Such an interesting question, and one to which I have been giving some thought of late. Honestly at 56 I still feel reasonably young. If I had to assign myself a category, I guess I'd say " late middle age." My gentleman friend is 67 and has white hair, but he rides his bike 100 miles or more a week and I promise you he doesn't feel old either!

One of our rules of life (we're working on a list and when we get to 10 we're going to write a book) is "have young friends," and I think that is a really great way to stay young.

I believe it is mental. Some people are just born 'old'. I believe you know some of those folks. Maybe it is the people who use the word folks. Can you party or bar hop with 25 year olds? If not you may be old. I think I will ask my children and get back to you.

When you're with younger people. And when you're with people older than you, you're younger. That's all. :). Age ain't nothin' but a number, right?

Well, I definitely agree that age is just a number. In my mind I feel 21! I've known people in their mid 30's behave like my parents . For reference I'm 51.
I like Peri's reply

I don't think about my age so I don't know the answer. I am glad to be healthy and active but who knows what will happen. More and more of our friends are getting sick and we have gone to some of our friends' funerals. That is a wake up call. My father was fairly young when he died. My first DH was young when he died. Both of these deaths were unexpected.

There are lots of things I want to do in life. Go to Yoga Teacher Training. work on my writing, travel, connect with old friends, etc. I plan to keep doing stuff while I am here. Maybe even after. Who knows.

I can hear an echo of my mother saying " Staysfit, age is an attitude!"

All my parents and in-laws have lived by this and remain(ed) youthful. They continue to work in their professions, stay current with news, up to date on technology, and involved with people. They also maintain their appearance. They have all looked younger than their stated ages, except maybe my dad who at 78 is balding, but he can't help that right?!

I'm 4 years off 60, but I don't see myself as an older person. I probably won't when I'm 60, or even 70. Maybe I'll consider myself an older person when I stop following fashion and no longer bother with make up etc. I can't see that ever happening though.

I'm with Peri: old age is always at least 10 years ahead of my current age. Ageing doesn't bother me that much, but it's a sobering thought that younger generations probably see me as being positively ancient!

so interesting that this came up now, as just this past Sunday as i was running errands in Target i caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and thought, WOW I am 52…..not that i didn't know it before, but just all of a sudden, there it was. i suppose it was partly because the day before i learned that a friend was going to need a triple by-pass…..when did i get old enough to have friends who needed by-passes, by-passes were for people my parents knew.

when you're retired.
As long as you work and are independent, you're an adult.
That's my knee-jerk answer, I will not try to justify it since it's obviously irrational.

I have one more thing to add. Obviously this question is resonating with me.

I was doing errands with my mother a while back. She is almost 80. We were stopped at a red light and an elderly woman was crossing the street with a walker and it was obviously a challenge. My mom commented, "Look at that poor old thing." I did look and replied back, "Mom, I think she is at least 10 years younger than you." My mother is tall, slim, and active but perceived a woman who was chronologically younger to be old because her body was displaying signs of failure.

This really is a fascinating discussion.

Well older is always a relative term. I am older than I was and younger than I will (with luck) be. Old starts around 80 these days I think. Will revise when I am older :-).

Even though this is a very interesting question for so many reasons I can't help but wonder what prompted it. And even imagining that the prompt was unlikely to be something cheerful.

I agree with many of the things that have been said but I think that denial of such a profound and obvious reality is not going anywhere good. I'm getting older as long as I'm alive. Job well done so far, keep up the good work.

Isabel, well said, I was thinking along the lines of what you just wrote and was just heading back to add to my post and see that you have already done.

Fascinating discussion. I've enjoyed reading everyone's replies.

Life expectancy for women in Canada is about 82 years old. I'm an optimist so I estimate mine at 90 (at least that's the number I use when planning retirement $). I think adulthood starts around 20, so that's a 70-year span of adulthood. I'd break it down this way: young (20s and 30s), middle-aged (40s, 50s and 60s), old(er) (70s and 80s). Yes, I gave an extra decade to the middle years

ETA: I agree it's relative and generational too. My grandmother looked after me when I was a baby. At two years old she told my mom she was too old to run after me. She was 47 at the time. I'm 45 and have a 5 year old. I don't feel too old to run after her!

I will be 59 in one month. DH and I are the same age. I don't ever think I am old until I say my age aloud. I am probably more physically active than most people half my age. My dad was almost 87 when he passed away and my mother was 90. Both were on high blood pressure meds early on plus lots of other meds. My DH and I are in excellent health, despite his back problems most likely due to his lifetime active lifestyle and my pacemaker that most likely was due to a virus that attacked my heart. We both maintain a healthy weight, have low bp, eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise each in our own way.

Ms. Mary, I love your idea: Have young friends.

That was basically my response to the young student in China when she asked how it felt to be an older person in the program. I said, "It feels pretty normal. At home, I am surrounded by younger people both in my work at the university and in my social circle."

This was true -- though I also have lots of older friends. Mr. Suz is 14 years older than me.

In one way, being around younger people makes us recognize our own age -- but it also makes us value our age and experience. And being around younger people also exposes us to new ideas, even as it reminds us of all those old concerns we don't have to worry about any more. (And what a relief that is!) All in all, the effect is to make us feel happy about our own age -- which in turn makes us seem "youthful" in a youth obsessed culture. It isn't really youth that we attain -- it's self-acceptance.

When I was a teenager, I noticed that the teachers often seemed quite youthful compared to my parents, even teachers who were chronologically older than my parents. (My parents, admittedly, were on the older side since they had us rather late compared to most parents at that time). My theory back then was that being around teenagers kept the teachers young. I still think there's something to that idea!

Isabel, I'm guessing, but I suspect the prompt for this question was another thread on the forum calling for "older" members to post photos. I might be wrong, but I know that thread made me scratch my head and wonder, who will identify as "older." And what does that mean?

Even in relative terms -- I am not sure what the make up of the forum is. (Lots of people read without posting, right?) I know that the age ranges from teens to 80s. (Which is SO cool!!!) Most who post regularly appear to be in their 30s to 50s, with a few 20s and a few 60s/70s.

When do senior discounts kick in on fashion purchases? Well, until that age I guess I'm not "old" ;-). Seriously though, I think it does depend on one's health, attitude, and activity level. Some people feel pretty old at 45 or 50 while others feel young at 70. I have a lot of "older" friends and they do indeed complain about being old. They are beyond 80 and did not live quite the same active lifestyle that people in their 40's and 50's are living these days - so maybe it's partly the lack of that activity and partly their mind set. I have another friend who is only 57 but says she is "old" routinely.

WOW. This was SUCH an interesting thread. What made most sense to me is that old age is relative. That said, 70 plus puts you in the older category in my head - without it being relative - if that makes sense too.

Isabel, a thread by always trying prompted the question. (Suz is dead right and I echo her 100%).


My right arm is sore today - and I have a lot to do - so I'm off the forum for the rest of the day. But I absorbed ALL your comments and appreciate your wisdom very much. You are all insightful, interesting and intelligent. Thank you.

Interesting responses here.
I'm turning 52 next month and I don't really think of myself as old. I think maybe it has more to do with what's going on in your head rather than your chronological age.

My 24 year old son has a friend who I always joke is a 45 year old in a 24 year old body.

Cheryle said...." My mom commented, "Look at that poor old thing." I did look and replied back, "Mom, I think she is at least 10 years younger than you.""
My MIL is the same way. She's 88 and always says she doesn't like old people. They walk too slow, etc. I think it's hysterical!

This thread is a really fun read.

I'd argue the following:
- young adulthood ends at around 25 or 26
- middle age starts at around 40 to 42
- old age starts at around 70
- "venerable" old age starts at around 80

You hear a lot of chirpy quotes like "you're only as old as you feel" and "Aunt Edna is 80 years young", but these comments are glossed with a veneer of anxiety. It's a plain fact that no one lives much past 100, and the vast majority of us are looking at -- more realistically -- something like 85. Thus, if you're in the last decade or two of your life, you are old. But I'm with those or you who have pointed out that this is not an insult. Youth has its advantages, yes, but so does age. I value it.

ETA There's a difference between being young and being youthful. One can be a youthful 80 years old.

Suz -- being around teenagers makes teachers ACT like teenagers, too, complete with lunchroom cliques and boys' clubs.

Can I just say I was a bit taken aback by many of the responses on this thread? Am I to assume that most of the YLF forum members think accumulating years is OK only as long as one feels and acts "young"? To be honest, that notion baffles me. Why would I chose to be something other than what I am--a 65 year-old woman who rides her bike, walks everywhere, and is interested in fashion because doing so makes her feel extraordinarily happy--not because it makes her seem "young" to some passing stranger.

And, I want friends of ALL ages. That, in fact, is one of the reasons I hang around this forum.

Fascinating read. I'm one of those that finds old relative. But there's also a spirit of youthfulness that's involved. My parents are in their late 60's but are both super active, have busy social lives, and travel extensively. They don't act old although they're definitely older. Then you have my son who I joke is an old man in a 7-year old's body. He tucks in his shirts, hikes up his shorts with a belt, and so much of what he says makes more sense if you imagine the words coming from an 80-year old man.

I retired (the first time) at 43 and then started a full-time graduate degree program at 55. I can't be old: I'm still a student, a non-traditional student, at least until I finish my defense this fall! I'm with Mary and Suz: having young friends and colleagues is a blessing.

I often work in communities that greatly value their elders, loosely defined as people over 55. I would willingly be an elder, but my status as a student has disqualified me for that. I have friends and associates (sadly, very little family) in their 80s: I carry the heavy stuff, am the one to get up to make the coffee, hold the door, etc. Having older friends is a blessing, too.

The demographics of my city and my neighborhood skew young: it's not unusual for me to glance around a cafe or restaurant and note I'm the only person my age there. It's taken me until this year, the year my youngest child graduated from high school, to embrace the notion of middle-aged.

Echoing Angie, I think I'll save older for 70.

Thank you Suz for clarifying the context! I like Aziraphale's bold, plain language chart but I would push the beginning of middle age to 50.
I think the scarcity of positive associations about aging and older people has stigmatized the process, which is of course both absurd and upside down.

I don't like being categorized. I am 66, and I think of myself as "younger than 67" and "older than 65." But I do not like being called "an older person." That "er" suffix is a comparative. So I think "older" is meaningless unless in comparison to another age. Nor do I like "old." I am who and the age I am, I am completely willing to admit it, and I am happy to use a senior discount. But I will wear what I like and what I think suits me, and I don't care if someone thinks it is inappropriate for an "older" woman. Also, I admit it pleases me when a person does a double-take when I tell them my age.

I wholeheartedly agree with Gaylene and Azeriphale. Older people have lived through a lot and have a lot to offer our world, we would be wise to listen to what they have to say. To me that is not a negative. Whether we live through those years as a healthy and vibrant individual or an unhealthy cripple, they are our 'older' years.