What age is considered ‘old’? | Aged Care Guide (2023)

It’s the age-old question about,well, age.When your back starts to hurt a bit more or you’re having more difficulty hearing everyday conversation, it’s common to wonder, “Am I getting old?”


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What age is considered ‘old’? | Aged Care Guide (1)

The statement of “age is just a number” could be just that.

As life expectancy for humans increases, so does our perception of what age we consider ‘old’.

We have better medicine, lifestyle, and disease prevention than ever before. We have more science promoting healthy life practices that keep us younger for longer.

So, when are you considered old?

The World Health Organisation believes that most developed world countries characterise old age starting at 60 years and above.

However, this definition isn’t adaptable to a place like Africa, where the more traditional definition of an elder, or elderly person, starts between 50 to 65 years of age.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently defined old age through a new measure called “prospective age” which looks at the average number of years people have left to live. So according to WEF, being old doesn’t start at age 65, rather when people have an average of 15 more years left to live.

What age is considered “old” in other countries?

Most of Europe have similar views of old age to the World Health Organisation, believing old age starts at 65 years of age.

In America, one researcher found that you are considered old at 70 to 71 years of age for men and 73 to 73 for women.

Just under a decade ago in Britain, people believed old age started at 59. However, research undertaken in 2018 found that British people believed you were considered old at 70.

A decade ago, Turkey considered 55 the beginning of old age, because the country’s average life expectancy at the time was 72. Now, however, with an unexpected boom in people over the age of 65, you are considered old when you reach the age of 70.

In developing countries, the age you are considered old is around when you can start receiving some form of pension.

In China, the retirement age is 60 for men and 50 for female workers, or for female civil servants, 55. China’s retirement age is considered one of the bigger gaps in retirement age.

Whereas, India has one of the lowest retirement ages in Asia, with 58 considered the age to retire.

In Libya, a country in Africa, the retirement age was raised from 65 to 70 years.

In many cases, it seems that the common idea of what old has either raised or lowered to a similar mark, around 65-70 years of age.

In Australia, the current retirement age is 67, however, that is expected to rise over the next few years. The Government is also pushing for older people to remain working for longer, so there has been a shift in what the Government believes is old.

What younger generations consider old?

A 2018 survey in the United States found that female participants, between the ages of 16-34, thought 61 was when old age started, whereas young males identified 56 as the age when you were considered old.

There were a lot of extra false perceptions around what young people thought were true about older people.

The false, but popular, belief that older people were bad drivers had around 72 percent of participants thinking this myth was true.

This perception is in line with other popular beliefs, like older people losing touch with modern technology. Around 55 percent of participants believed that was a true statement, even though it was found not to be true.

However, younger people were correct around the belief that older people are lonelier, like their bodies less as they age, and their physical and general health and mobility decline.

Age vs perception

Another US study found that young adults have a different view of what is considered old, many believe old age hits at 50 and middle age starts at 30.

The principal researcher of the study thought it was interesting that so many younger people had a skewed perception of ageing.

The study found that the perception of old age changes as you age. So the older you get, the more likely you are to feel younger.

Additionally, the older you become, the more likely you are to shift towards a youthful idea of how you look, the interests you have and the activities you participate in.

This study believes this move to believing you are younger than you are may be due to the stigmatisation of older people.

So older people will tend to disassociate themselves from the older age group, so they don’t experience the negative stereotypes of being old.

The main finding of the study was that people don’t want to associate themselves as being in an older adult group because of the stigma they have had from younger ages towards older people.

A market research company, Ipsos, surveyed 30 countries to see how the perceptions of age differ between the countries.

The survey found that Australians perceive old age nearly the same as when you can begin receiving the age pension.

While Australia has a high life expectancy, the country is also very negative towards ageing.

About 29 percent of Australians are optimistic about ageing. This is lower than the global average, 33 percent. Just over half of Australians are worried about ageing, 51 percent.

And around 71 percent of participants believed they were prepared for old age.

Australians did agree, 61 percent, that our elders did not receive enough respect.

How media and modern society portray older people

The perception in our media, whether that is film, television, books or news, seem to continue perpetuating ageist stereotypes.

One of the biggest is around computer literacy. Whilst the perception is the older you are the less familiar you’ll be with modern technology, a large portion of older people are able to use computers and quite well.

A large number of YouTube consumers are retirees with around 36 percent of users clicking on the plethora of free entertainment and informational videos.

Additionally, one of Facebook’s biggest demographics are people over the age of 50. It’s the most commonly used social media by older people.

Dementia is nothing to joke about. However, many jokes in the media we consume poke fun at older adults and their memory loss.

Along with perceptions of older people having memory loss, is the continued stereotype of older adults being mean and rude.

Everyone can be mean and rude, those behaviours aren’t reserved from every older person, and studies have found that those stereotypes can further push ageist views and leave older people feeling excluded and neglected from society.

One study even found that elderly people are usually depicted very negatively in literature and not often cast in major roles in books or do not have fully developed characters.

You’re only as old as you feel

Depending on who you ask, the definition of what old is can differ depending on opinion and the age of the person being asked.

Searching for what is considered “old” can seem irrelevant when you will always receive a subjective answer.

If a 95 year old Finnish woman can be one of the oldest person to bungee jump, or a 80 year old can be the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest even after four open-heart surgeries and suffering a shattered pelvis, who really gets to decide if you are too old to do something?

With life expectancy growing every year in Australia, currently at 82.5 years, it seems a little bit ambitious to say goodbye to your youth in your mid-30s and welcome old age before you blow the candles out at 60.

These days it seems age has become just that, a number, and it’s more about how you are feeling physically and mentally which determines whether you are old.

We’re interested to know what age you believe is “old”, or do you feel age is just a number? Let us know by commenting in the box below.


What age is considered ‘old’? | Aged Care Guide? ›

Most of Europe have similar views of old age to the World Health Organisation, believing old age starts at 65 years of age. In America, one researcher found that you are considered old at 70 to 71 years of age for men and 73 to 73 for women.

What age is considered old age? ›

However, in most industrialized countries, the onset of old age is considered to be around 60 to 65. In the U.S, this is the age when society commonly considers you elderly because this is when most Americans stop working and become eligible for age-based assistance programs.

Is 70 years old considered elderly? ›

According to the United States Social Security Administration, anyone age 65 or older is elderly.

Are you considered old at 35? ›

The American Psychological Association defines "middle adulthood" as beginning at 35 or 36, and many ranges do not end until 60 or 65. The Lancet considers midlife as starting from around age 40.

Is 40 years old considered old? ›

Adulthood is commonly thought of as beginning at age 20 or 21 years. Middle age, commencing at about 40 years, is followed by old age at about 60 years.

At what age does your body start to slow down? ›

The speed that your body burns energy for its everyday functions is called your metabolic rate. For most people, this doesn't start to slow down until around the age of 60, but it does change if your weight changes.

At what age does old age start and end? ›

However, in most contemporary Western countries, 60 or 65 is the age of eligibility for retirement and old-age social programs, although many countries and societies regard old age as occurring anywhere from the mid-40s to the 70s.

What stage of life are you when you are 70? ›

Middle Age Adult = 40-59 yrs. Senior Adult = 60+

What life stage is 70? ›

Age Periods during Late Adulthood

In this chapter, we will be dividing the stage into four age periods: Young–old (60-74), old-old (75-84), the oldest-old (85-99), and centenarians (100+). These categories are based on the conceptions of aging including, biological, psychological, social, and chronological differences.

What percentage of the population lives to be 75? ›

Question: Government data show that 6% of the American population are at least 75 years of age and that about 52% of Americans are women.

What determines how old you are? ›

A variety of external factors contributes to how you age, including lifestyle, stress and even access to health care. DNA methylation can also be a very precise predictor of your biological age. "Someone who has diabetes will have a very different DNA methylation pattern than someone who doesn't.

What is after middle age? ›

Once people are past middle age, they're old. That's how life progresses: You're young, you're middle-aged, then you're old. Of course, calling someone old is generally not considered polite, because the word, accurate though it might be, is frequently considered pejorative.

What is 50 years of age called? ›

A person between 40 and 49 is called a quadragenarian. A person between 50 and 59 is called a quinquagenarian. A person between 60 and 69 is called a sexagenarian. A person between 70 and 79 is called a septuagenarian.

What life stage is 40 years old? ›

Early Adulthood: Ages 17-45 (with 40 – 45 being the Midlife Transition years) Middle Adulthood: Ages 40-65 (with 60-65 being the Late Adult Transition years) Late Adulthood: Ages 60-85. Late Late Adulthood: Ages 85+

Why 60 is the new 40? ›

But, the claim '60 is the new 40' is really just a way to describe the way that people are living longer, healthier lives, and feeling younger at 60 than their parents and grandparents – which is something to celebrate.

What stage is 40 years old? ›

The late thirties (or age 40) through the mid-60s are referred to as middle adulthood. This is a period in which physiological aging that began earlier becomes more noticeable and a period at which many people are at their peak of productivity in love and work.

What are the signs of old age? ›

Some signs of aging can be seen from the outside: Your hair turns gray, and wrinkles and age spots appear on your skin. Our bodies are less able to store fluid in older age, so our spinal discs shrink and lose elasticity, for instance. As a result, people get smaller as they grow older.

Is 49 old for a woman? ›

The age of 49 coincides with the generally accepted end of a woman's child-bearing years, but hardly with the end of life and exposure to both opportunity and risk. Today, women over 49 account for nearly a quarter of the world's population. “Older women are us.

What do you call people who are in their 70s? ›

A person between 70 and 79 is called a septuagenarian. A person between 80 and 89 is called an octogenarian. A person between 90 and 99 is called a nonagenarian. A person between 100 and 109 is called a centenarian.

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