How old is considered old?

The answer to that question appears to be changing as people live longer, retire later and maintain higher levels of physical and mental health into their older years.

A study published Monday suggests that people in their mid-60s believe old age starts at 75 — but the older people get, the later they think it begins. 

The research, published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychology and Aging journal, examined data from around 14,000 participants in the German Aging Survey, which studies old age as a stage of life in Germany. The participants were born between 1911 and 1974 and entered the survey at ages 40 to 85.

The people studied reported their perceptions of old age up to eight times over 25 years. For every four to five years that passed, participants reported that old age started a year later compared to their last assessment.

Participants who were born earlier — from 1911 to 1935 — thought that old age started earlier compared with participants born after 1935. 

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Participants in the study who were lonelier, had more chronic diseases or reported being in poorer health were more likely to believe that old age started earlier.

Women, on average, thought that old age started around 2.4 years later than men did.

However, Jacqui Smith, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the research, cautioned that the results may not apply to other countries, since cultural views of aging and historical trends vary between communities. In the U.S., for instance, life expectancy declined during the Covid pandemic, from 79 years in 2019 to 76 in 2021 — whereas Germany's life expectancy has been fairly consistent since 2014.

Read the complete article in NBC News