Old Age

Old age: Why 70 may be the new 65

Rethinking what is ‘old’ as we begin to live longer

When I was younger, I remember seeing my grandmother and thinking of her as an old woman. This was because she looked old in the way she dressed, the way she walked and the way she acted. Now, my mother is the same age that my grandmother was when I was a child. But, she looks much younger. Old age is starting to look a little more subjective. We may need to ask: What is ‘old’?

It could be time to rethink how we measure and define old age in the UK because more people are surviving into their late 80s and beyond, say experts. The Office for National Statistics team says although 65 has traditionally been seen as the start of old age, 70 could be seen as the "new 65".

That's because many people who reach this milestone birthday can still expect to live another 15 years. Remaining life expectancy may be a better marker of old age, they say.


What age is old?

Traditionally, 65 has been taken as the start of old age. For decades it has been the official retirement age for men when they can start drawing their state pension.

But working patterns are shifting and the pension age is rising for both men and women - it will reach 66 in 2020 and 67 by 2028.


Changing times

The ONS Centre for Ageing and Demography team looked back at population data on health and life expectancy to compare trends over time. If you take the measure of 15 years of life remaining, the average age that a person will hit this point has changed over the last century.

In 1951 men and women around the age of 60 could expect to live another 15 years. By the 1990s it had shifted to 65 and currently it's 70-year-olds who can expect another 15 years of life. In 2057, experts predict this average age will rise again to 75.

The population's life expectancy has increased over the centuries thanks to improvements in healthcare and living conditions.


What age is traditionally seen as the start of old age?
What age could be the new start of old age?
Traditionally, what can men get at 65?
What will the pension age be in the UK in 2020?
What will the pension age be in the UK in 2028?
In 1951, how long could people expect to live?
The __________ system in my country is not great. We need better hospitals and clinics.
I don’t work anymore. Instead of a salary, I have my __________.
The 1900s were also known as the 20th __________.
I am coming up to 40. That is a big __________ birthday.
The __________ in my university is around 19.2, although there are some older students too.
The demographics of the workforce has __________ in recent years. We have a lot more younger workers than before.

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