As a relatvely young 56 year old I am increasingly becoming aware of my impending ‘aged’ status on the face of it I will be old in 9 short years – I am not feeling it yet but …. It seems that age 65 is now becoming the ‘line in the sand’ by which time we become old and somehow a burden.
More and more I am reading articles which are measuring the ageing of individuals and communities by the numbers, those under the alloted age are young! while those over are our classified as old.
Marker of Old Age
Why have we settled on this arbitrary age – yes I know that it many countries it is defined by when we get our hands on our pension, but in all other senses turning 65 is no different to turning 70. There is no measurable genetic or health marker that ensures that at this milestone we are somehow surprisingly OLD.
In the last month alone I have read the following
Despite this image in the popular media of us being old at 65 we are in the political arena being encouraged to consider redefining our ‘retirement age’ and to remain working beyond the traditional retirement aged. The two opposing stories don’t sit well together and eventually a ‘redefintion’ of old will need to occur.
How long to live – might be new defining characteristic of ‘aged’
Such is the debate and interest in ageing that many are looking to redifine how we think about and measure old age. One approach being argued is that of ‘prospective’ aging as defined using a number of characteristics of ageing. Dr Sergei Scherbov has been part of this movement.
New Prospective Old Age Definition
He and his colleagues propose that we define ‘aged’ by a constant. that constant is how long we have on average to live until we die. The tipping or defining point is deemed to be 15 years on average of remaining life.
Old age or ageing is then defined by this constant or by providing for ‘age inflation’ as another way of explaining this concept.
This ‘prospective’ definition of ageing – means that for individuals and populations being old does not happen at a fixed aged. This defintion provides a new way of defining and comparing ageing across the world as the number of years of age alone is clearly an inadequate measure.
Here in Australia for example while 65 is used as the age at which most Australians are deemed to be old, this same marker is inadequate for our indigenous population who die much earlier as their life expectancy is shorter.
This redifinition of ageing makes sense to me – what about you?