A 2013 Marist poll showed that 45-year-olds think 60-year-olds are OLD. But 70-year-olds think: SPRING CHICKENS. In other words, “old” is in the eye of the beholder.
So I decided to do a little investigating on my own unsuspecting family and friends…
The question: “When is someone old? Why?”
The first person I asked was my Mom, who is currently in her early 70s. Her response? “15-years older than I am at any given moment.”
Ha! Love this answer. She will never be old.
She went on…“But, you never really see yourself as old. I can remember my dad working in the garden and talking about some neighbor who was ‘really getting old.’ Then he paused, looked up, and said, ‘Oh my, he is the exact same age as me!’”
Obviously, the age-obliviousness runs in the family.
On to my children and friends (along with Grandma’s commentary…)
6-year old: 90 (Grandma dances a jig! Old is MORE than 15 years from where she is now!)
Why? “because they use canes and they are Grandmas”
7-year-old: 50 or 60 (No dancing Grandma. This grandchild better not have a birthday coming up.)
“They have gray hair”
9-year-old: 85 (Grandma feels this grandchild could use a talking-to, but this is acceptable.)
“They have boney legs and lots of wrinkles”
10-year-old: 70 (You heard Grandma’s scream all the way at your house? Sorry about that.)
“You can start seeing the signs of aging like gray hair”
“Really, I think age is irrelevant. It is totally based on quality of life and your ability to take care of yourself.” (Grandma nods her head in complete agreement)
Perennial #1: 80
“I’m over 60 and I don’t feel anywhere close. And I know people who are 80 and nowhere close either. But I also know people who are 40 who seem old because they are in poor health. Health is the real issue.” (Yep. Grandma is with you there.)
Perennial #2: 67
“I’m having to be a caregiver for my husband. But then again, some days I feel very young. It really depends on how I feel physically.”
So you can see that the views of my friends and family, probably much like yours, have no consistency.
But the thread that runs through their commentary is health. The saying “you’re as old as you feel” has some real truth to it. “Old” reflects health as much or more than age.
When our bodies are cooperating, we feel young. When every joint in my lower-body cracks as I stand up, my kids think I’m ancient, and I start to wonder, too.
When we ask about age, the underlying questions we are asking are NOT how many candles are on someone’s birthday cake. What we are really asking is, “How is their HEALTH?”
The good news here is that health is something we play a large role in developing in our own lives and can pretty much always be improved in some ways.
So while the number of candles on our birthday cake continue to add up each year, whether we spend those years making healthy or unhealthy choices is really what will determine when we get old.
As for my family…I’m pretty sure my 6-year-old just scored some serious candy from Grandma.
What do you think makes someone seem old? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!