Time keeps marching on, which means we continue to grow older one day at a time. Despite the inevitability of aging, how adults feel about their age may not align with how they once felt. In fact, it might not even align with reality!
Research has found that perception changes with time. What may have once seemed true about a specific age may no longer feel that way once we’re staring down that birthday. How old do you think you are? Is there a possibility your perception isn’t accurate?
How Old is “Old”?
Have you ever thought about how you define “old”? Have you ever noticed that your answer to this question has changed over time?
As young people, most have a certain idea about what it means to be “old.” For a child, it might mean turning 18 and moving out on their own. For a 16-year-old, “old age” might be about having kids and turning thirty. For a young adult, it might mean turning 40 or it might mean retiring from full-time work. Whatever it is, it probably evolves with time.
For example, a 2018 research review published in the journal Frontiers looked at the different perceptions of age documented in a large body of research. They noted that adults between the ages of 18 and 29 felt that a person officially becomes “old” when they reach 60. For adults who were already in middle age, old age didn’t start until 72.
Age and Stereotypes
While many people age gracefully, it is also true that there are cultural stigmas about being an elder. Interestingly, reaching a specific age doesn’t erase or eliminate those stereotypes.
Instead, older adults actually distance themselves from the more negative ideas of their age group, according to a 2018 study published in Current Directions of Psychological Science. Hate the way older adults drive? You might deny you drive like an older adult once you reach that age.
You’re as Old as You Feel
Muhammed Ali once said, “You’re as old as you feel.” Interestingly enough, there is some truth to this statement. Many adults, once they reach middle age, believe that middle age lasts longer than it really does.
This tendency to stretch out middle age can be beneficial to your well-being. If you don’t feel old, you might exhibit better health, including lowering the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
~ Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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