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How old is old?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

I got an invitation recently to link on Facebook with someone who, when I was a young pup, considered an old dog. I worked with him more than 30 years ago and believed then that he was way over the hill.

Obviously, I was wrong. My Facebook friend is not only still kicking, he's also still working and still keeping track of what's current. Plus, he remarried a few years ago and is the father of a 9-year-old son. Wow.

How old is old?

How we perceive aging depends on our age and our gender, according to a survey by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion conducted for Home Instead Senior Care.

When asked, "At what age do you consider someone to be old?" millennials, who are younger than 30, said 62. Gen Xers, who are in their 30s and 40s, said 71. Baby boomers, the oldest of whom turn 65 this year, picked 77. And the greatest generation, who are older than 66, say 81. Men consider someone to be old at 70 years, while women say people aren't old until they are 76 years old.

The study also found that being "old" doesn't change the desire for a long life. Survey respondents from every generation -- millennials, Gen Xers, boomers and the greatest generation -- all would like to live a long life to at least 90 years, but most expect to only reach 83 years. My friend, who is 102, has now set her sights on 107.

When I think about my Facebook friend, it seems clear that smart retirement planning should give us options as we age, including the option to avoid retirement and continue living as if we were young.

Happy New Year.

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1 Comment
December 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

If you are retired, you're old.
If you remember the Great Depression, you're old.
If the word "depends" is a noun (referring to something you wear) in your everyday lexicon, then you're old.