A new survey of almost 3,000 adults by the Pew Research Center reveals that most people do not consider themselves “old.” When asked what constitutes “old,” the average respondent recorded that condition beginning at 68 years. Differences of opinion on the matter abounded, depending on the age of the respondent.
For example, those under 30 were more likely to believe 60 years constitutes old age, while those in middle age said it’s closer to 70. The over-65 group said they believe “old” does not apply until one reaches 75 years.
Says New York State University sociologist Russell Ward, who was not involved with the survey, “What you find is the older people are, the more people push back the age that is old.” According to Frederick Augustyn, Jr. of the Popular Culture Association, baby boomers, who strongly identified themselves with youth earlier decades, resist being categorized as “old.”
Most participants in the survey say they don’t feel old. Among those 65 to 74 years of age, only 21 percent say they feel old; thirty-five percent of those 75 and older say they feel old. On average, 60 percent of those age 65 and older say they feel younger than their age.
The survey also asked respondents to what age they would like to live, with the average response being 89. Approximately 20 percent reported a desire to live into their 90s, and 8 percent want to live past 100 years.