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When Does One Officially Become Old?

A Shift in Perception
The concept of old age is undergoing a transformation. A few decades ago, individuals nearing their late 50s were largely considered elderly. However, due to extended life cycles, increased life expectancy, and a greater emphasis on health, such individuals are now more commonly referred to as middle-aged.

In an effort to redefine what constitutes old age in modern times, researchers from Germany, the United States, and Luxembourg analyzed data from over 14,000 participants involved in the decades-long German Aging Survey. The participants, born between 1911 and 1974, responded to various inquiries, one of which questioned at what age someone is considered old, according to IFLScience.

Findings reveal that perceptions of old age have shifted over time. Individuals born in 1911 believed old age commenced at an average age of 71 when asked at the age of 65. In contrast, when the same question was posed to those born in 1956 upon reaching 65, the threshold had been adjusted to 74 years old, indicating a three-year increase.

It is important to note that women generally placed the threshold of old age about two years later than men. Other factors were also found to influence perceptions of aging; individuals in poorer health or those experiencing loneliness tended to believe that old age begins earlier.

The study, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, highlights that the rising attention to health and increasing life expectancy contribute to pushing back the age considered as 'old.' However, researchers caution that while this trend is notable, it cannot continue indefinitely. Recent years have seen a slowdown in the shift of the aging threshold, suggesting a potential plateau in the perception of when old age begins.

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