Aging in America: How old is old?

Serious older man looking at us When does old age begin? Is it 65, 70, 75 or older? The answer is subjective, of course. It depends on a lot of factors—not the least of which is the age of the person answering the question!
    Here’s an answer: 68 years old is old.
    That’s the average of all the respondents to a new national poll on aging by the Pew Research Center. This week on Ourvalues.org we’ll examine some of the facts and perceptions about aging in America, drawing on just-released findings. An aging population is one of the key demographic trends in America, raising a host of ethical questions: intergenerational relations, elder care, social security, and healthcare—just to name a few.
    Almost all Americans (94%) who are 65 or older don’t agree with 68 as the onset of old age. But more than half of Americans under 30 say old age starts before 60.
    There are more disagreements between generations when we consider the markers of old age. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Americans under 30 say forgetting familiar names is a sign of old age; less than half of Americans over 50 agree. Similar gaps between generations are evident for markers such as retirement, sexual inactivity, having gray hair, or having grandchildren.
    Older and younger Americans agree about other markers of old age, such as declining health, not being able to drive a car or to live independently.
    How about you?
    When would you say old age starts?
    What issues around aging do you face or experience in your families?

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