18 January 2012

When does 'old' start?

On the eve of my 35th birthday, Older Daughter piped up with 'oh, you'll be middle aged tomorrow' - as 35 was half of our supposed allotted 70 (being the Biblical three score years and 10).  Now that she's reached that grand old age, she maintains that 'middle age' starts at 45. Ho hum.

If that's the case then when does 'old age' start?  

Well, I've just seen an article in the paper
(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9010770/Age-discrimination-rooted-in-society-Government-finds.html) which says that, according to young people 'old age' starts at 54 (when I was young I thought 'old' was anyone over 30!) and that youth ends at 32.

A survey of over two thousand people by the Department for Work and Pensions found that, on average, Britons believe that old age starts at 59, whilst youth ends at 41.  However, people over 80 believe that youth ends at 52 and old age starts at 68.  I do remember an article in the local paper once which said 'an elderly man of 61 . . .' - must have been written by a 'young' person!

The article goes on to say that with the retirement age approaching 66, people must alter their perceptions of when people become 'old'.  People today are living longer, working longer and contributing more in their later lives.  This is great news and it is important that our perceptions of age keep up with the reality of increasing longevity.

According to the research, about one-third of people had experienced some form of prejudice in the past year because of their age.  However, this is not just older people, younger people are stereotyped even more often.

Another interesting attitude which came out of this survey was that men believe that old age comes sooner than women do.  Something to do with retiring and putting their feet up, rather than still getting on with the housework, washing and cooking?

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