What age is considered elderly?
This is a question dozens and dozens of seniors have asked us because they just don’t feel or look “Elderly”. And, a vibrant 65 year old definitely does not feel, look, or act Elderly. Right?
So, when do we become elderly?
What age is considered elderly?
Well being called “elderly” has pissed my sister off for about 6 or 7 years already. And, rightly so. She’s a very active 72 year old right now who still teaches school and has many extra curricular activities each week besides.
I think we all know people in their 80s who are as active as 50 and 60 year olds. And, we also know people in their 60s who have basically given up on most everything, barely have the energy to go for a short walk, and who feel like they have really gotten old.
And yet, if you are up there, in your late 70s or in your 80s, being called “elderly” is a sign of pure respect.
Let’s take a little look at what the dictionaries have to say. Here are a few definitions of “elderly” from some of the most famous dictionaries:
Webster’s Revised Unabridged:
“Somewhat old; advanced beyond middle age; bordering on old age; as, elderly people.”
“You use elderly as a polite way of saying that someone is old.”
“an elderly person is old."
HOWEVER, here’s the catch: “old” is not what it used to be.
This is where the question “What age is considered elderly?” is causing a problem. We're living much longer now.
Did you know that in 1950 the average life expectancy was just 68 years? (65 was considered old, and, hence, the 65 year retirement age)
In 2021, the average life expectancy is almost 79 (78.99)! Yeah for us!
So, “Old” is no longer 65. It’s considered more like 78+.
As we read in Wikipedia:
“Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings (78.99 years in 2021), and is thus the end of the human life cycle......"
Therefore “Elderly”, in 2021, is most likely considered starting around the age of 73.
In our search for what age is considered elderly, we wanted to get a clear picture of what “Elderly” actually is. And, how it is different from “Old”.
The best answer we found for “Old” was in Wikipedia. Here’s what they say:
“Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle......"
It also tells us that:
"Elderly people often have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease, syndromes, injuries and sickness than younger adults.”
That means, when we are elderly, yes, we are a bit worn out. We are definitely "older". BUT, we are not yet really “Old” yet.
And remember: We all wear out at different times.
Elderly is the age where we’re really becoming old human beings. And, that age is not the same for everyone.
So, “elderly” seems to come down to this: It’s the time when we’re older, and we’re obviously wearing out, but still functioning mildly, well enough, and still getting about.
And, this is why my sister and the 84 seniors that wrote to us (yes 84!) about HATING being called “elderly” were in such a huff. And, rightly so.
A vibrant active senior citizen somewhere between 65 and 75 years of age, is certainly and most definitely not considered “Elderly”.
On the other hand, a very old person, especially one who has passed the human life expectancy, who is a bit frail but still getting around, would happily take the “Elderly” title. And, it's well earned!
Yes, we’re living longer these days. And, that’s great! Right?
So, “What Age is Considered Elderly” has to take into account a two things:
1) How old we actually are?
2) What our physical condition is.
When we pass 75 and become frail, yes we are “elderly”.
If we have just become senior citizens, or even if we are well past the 75 year mark, and are as active as can be, we are definitely not in the “elderly” category yet.
Have a Most Wonderful Day! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte