Who, or what, is considered “old” these days?

Lynn Dorman, Ph.D. // Aging


August 23  

Is this an activity for "old" people? Sure is! Is this an activity for "old" people?

Why not ??

40 used to be old; then it was 50 or 60; now it is over 75 [ish].

Textbooks on lifespan human development have been adding new chapters to the end of the books and re-categorizing and re-labeling the ages between 35-75. 

The cohort of "75 to death" is now sometimes called “very old age.”  [But at least over 75 is included in newer textbooks – older ages used to be entirely left out.] 

And just so older persons don’t feel singled out; adding in chapters about ages 30, 40 and 50 took a long time too.  Developmental Psychology, as a field of study, is still growing – as is the human lifespan.

We all get old but we need not sit around and wait for death to happen.

Death is psychologically as important as birth… Shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose. Jung

However you define this later age of maturity – it is important to keep yourself and our increasingly longer later age[s] of life in super condition.

How do you do this so you are not robbing yourself of the purpose which Jung mentions?

Here are three suggestions:
  • keep your body in the best shape possible
  • keep your brain active
  • socialiize

Your body

It’s the only one you have and you need to take care of it. Yes, these days parts can be replaced – but you still then need to take care of the new parts.

The best time to start this body care is now! It doesn’t matter how old you are, taking care of that body can begin today! [Even if you are in your “youth” and reading this.]

Exercise daily. It can be as simple as walking to more complicated exercise routines. Just start now!

Your brain

Like your body, the brain too needs exercise. They thrive on challenge – so keep doing harder and harder mental tasks. Don’t settle for the easy puzzle – stretch and go for the harder one. Make that brain really work! 

Your social life

Socializing keeps you in shape too. It makes you think, react and use your brain. Be a friend. Make new friends. You’ll feel better.

And best of all one can combine all of the above by finding a friend to exercise with and or go to a discussion group or book club. Your body brain and social being will feel so good. You’ll have a super later age of maturity.
what's you take on "old"  let's chat via comments below
  • Hi friend – yup taking care of one’s health and body are all-important. Sounds like your grandfather knew that! Now I am definitely getting back on my bike! I got put off a bit by traffic but need to overcome that fear – and I’m not even near 80 yet – let alone 90

  • Hi Robyn…good points – funny too. I interpret Jung as meaning that instead of fearing death so much that we sit in the rocking chair fearing to do anything to hasten it – that we go out and live!

    Cheers to old age! Let’s drink to that

  • When I was younger, my take on aging was that cliché, “you’re only as old as you feel.” But that was before gravity laid its heavy hand on me. Now I realize that as I may still be mentally 30 or 40, my body doesn’t agree with me. It takes more effort to keep fluid and I definitely give more attention to what I eat. My mother used to tell me that some things I would not understand until I was older. I thought she was avoiding an answer to my questions, but now I know that we all pass through stages and it’s not really possible to grasp a stage until you’re in it. As you pointed out, what has really changed is the beginning and end of the latter stages of life. Baby Boomers took over advertising’s mind in the 1950s, but the world has not kept pace with us – much of it is still stuck on a demographic stage that doesn’t exist in the numbers it did. This, in my opinion, has caused the fixation on youth = ability, age = rest/stagnation. As much as I respect Jung, I’m not sure about the quote you used, which I interpreted as using the last half of life to think about its ending. Yeesh. I’d rather use the last half of my life to live. So those of us who would once have been called old are still living our lives. We’re not our parents or grandparents, who “went to seed” and spent their later years playing bridge or golfing. With our ability to stay more active mentally and physically, and a desire to continue to contribute, we are changing the perception of what it means to be older in modern society.

  • Hey Lynn, this Shrinath – twitter.com/javashri

    I totally agree that as long as you take care of you body, its all going to be fine. I agree with you fully. My gramps used to bicycle around his native town till he was 89. At that time his eye sight started failing him and he had to stop it. Sadly he passed away beginning of this year. He was 94. He had a full and healthy life. He was a table tennis (ping pong) coach and still coached in his later 70s.

    Good luck and have fun!

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    About the Author

    Native of NYC who moved a lot, got several degrees, and has been a lifelong writer and reader... I am interested in many things - and I write [and teach] about them - especially the human lifespan and healthy aging

    Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.