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How Old is Old? Is 60 Really the New 40?

By Margaret Manning April 30, 2015 Mindset

How old is old? In most western countries, retirement age is the milestone after which someone becomes “elderly” or a “senior.” But, is this really fair? After all, in 1930, around the time that Social Security was established, a 65-year-old woman could expect to live 12.8 years. By contrast, a woman that turned 65 in 2009 could expect to live 20.3 years.

How Old is Old Really?

If you are in your 50s now, chances are your life-expectancy by the time you reach “retirement age” will be considerably higher than this. So, this raises an interesting question: If life expectancy continues to increase, why have our definitions of “old age” remained the same?

It’s Not Just a Matter of Life-expectancy

Our generation’s expectations for life after 65 are dramatically different than our parents and grandparents. Most of us aren’t planning on retiring any time soon. Even those of us who want to quit our jobs eventually see “retirement” as a time for pursuing our passions, not embracing invisibility.

In addition, we all experience the aging process differently. I know people in their 80s, who are roller-skating and jumping out of planes. I also know people in their early 50s who are cynical, grumpy and inactive.

So, my question for you is this – do you become “old” when you reach a certain age, whether 60, 65, or 70? Or, is being “old” a state of mind?

Like many older adults, I feel different ages on different days. Some mornings, I wake up as a 30-year-old version of myself. Other days, I feel 130. It just depends.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Do you think that retirement age is the point at which someone becomes “old?” Why or why not? Is “old age” something that happens to you at age 65 or 70? Or, is “old age” a state of mind? Please join the conversation.


Here is a short video that I recorded to facilitate the conversation of “how old is ok?” I hope that you enjoy it!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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