An amazing number of people – old people; even people older than 80 – say they are not old.
Some people in that camp say things like, “you're only as old as as you feel.” Yeah, right. Tell that to the employers who won't hire you if you are 50, 55 or older.
Whether anyone likes the idea or not, in the real world it doesn't matter what you imagine about how old you appear. For most functional and social purposes in life, it is what others think of your age, not you, that matters.
Not long ago, AARP conducted a survey asking people, How Old is Old? They report:
”Eighty-five percent of respondents – who ranged in age from 40 to 90 – told us they're not old yet. (One 90-year-old woman said that a woman isn't 'old' until she hits 95.) So who is old? It depends on who you ask.”
Specifically, they found it depends on how old the person is who is being asked.
People in their 40s said 63 is old
People in their 50s said 68
People in their 60s said 73
People in their 70s said 75
Which pretty much proves Bernard Baruch's point of view: “To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” (1940)
Here is a small version of the infographic from the AARP survey. Click the image for a lerger, more readable version.
All this shows how much old people are hated – even by themselves. Come on, everyone, say it out loud with me: There is nothing wrong with being old.
Ageism is the last acceptable prejudice. It will not end until everyone becomes comfortable with aging, with including old people in mainstream culture, until age discrimination in the workplace and other kinds of ageism are overcome. Until politicians stop trying to further enrich billionaires on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries.
And none of that will happen until elders themselves – that's you and me – live as comfortably in relation to our years now as we did in our 20s and 30s and 40s.
At what age do you think someone is old?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: Hoping For a Good Ending