Sixty Eight is Old. Pew Says So!

I was multi-tasking this morning on my computer. (I am almost ashamed to admit that since most people consider multi-tasking a physical activity. You know what I mean: making dinner, talking to a relative on the phone, watching the evening news, emptying the dishwasher, overseeing homework activities of the children and folding clothes right out of the dryer).

But alas, for me, I was reading an article on when does old age begin, writing an article in my head, staring at an image of a bell curve, looking at my google calendar to determine how much time I can spend surfing; yes, I was surfing, listening to Pandora blaring out a quick mix of my favorites, IMing a friend a thousand miles away and catching up on the latest sales from Powell’s Bookstore in Portland.

So at what age does a person stop getting older and actually become old and when does old age begin? Now that I recently turned sixty, this age-old and tireless debate has become old and tired. Period.

Research, whether from AARP, Office On Aging or Pew Research Institute states that results are staggering or at least, revealing. Again, from my perch, findings have neither staggered me or become a revelation. However, according to a report by the Pew, Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality, bottom lining it: Old age begins at 68.  Thank goodness for me, I am not old yet.

The study is easily dismissed. Consider these “facts”:

Factoid #1 – Nearly 15% of the respondents correlate being old to having gray hair. (Fortunately for me I have been “blonding” for so many years so no one will ever know for certain, except my hairdresser).

Factoid #2 – 45% of those in this survey stated that having trouble walking up stairs marks old age. (Stairs were a problem 20 years ago when I had to make an average of 50 trips up and down flights in my home when kids were under foot).

Factoid #3 – Survey says that 66% of the folks believe that when you can’t drive a car you are old. (Heck, I have been old since I was 21. I hated driving then. I always relied on public transportation as a way of getting from point A to B and still hate driving to this day).

Old age is whenever you want it to take over your being. I can recall being old at 30 amidst a group of “fresh outta college kids”  in the office.

I knew I was old as a 38 year old at the mommy and me play group with 20 something green mommies.

But then, I felt young in my late 40’s when the high schoolers would hang at our house till the early hours of the morning.

And how wonderful it was to be considered a youngster to the 70 plus year olds at the women’s group in my 50’s.

Looking at age as a bell curve can open your eyes to how, why, when or where you are as you face that number on your biological clock. At the beginning of life just as when you are nearing the end, you are “childlike!”
Anything in between can be compared to one of the liquid wave toys. A gentle move causes the contents to flow up and down resulting in a rippling effect. So, toss out those studies with the baby and the bath water and hold on for a ride. Some days you are as old as you feel and other days you just plain feel old.


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