If you’re wondering why politicians and reporters refer to people 65 and older as “elderly” or “senior citizens,” you’re not alone. The overwhelming majority of Americans (79 percent) believe you’re old when you turn 85, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Only 32 percent of survey respondents say that you’re old at 65. How old will you be when you begin to feel old?
Younger and older people have different views of when we become old. People between 18 and 29 believe that the average person becomes old at 60.
People 65 and older believe that typically people do not become old until they are 74. And six in ten people 65 and older say that they feel younger than their age. Only 3 percent of the 2,969 adults Pew surveyed say that they feel older than their age. Perhaps most interesting is that one in three people surveyed between the ages of 65 and 74 said they felt between 10 and 19 years younger than their age. And, one in six of them said that they felt at least 20 years younger.
To be sure, growing older is a mixed bag, particularly for people with low incomes. But the evidence continues to mount that aging has its benefits. For many people, it brings greater happiness.