When Do You Move From Middle Age to Old Age?


“You are only as old as you feel”

“Age is an attitude, not a number”

“Age is a state of mind”

You’ve heard all of those platitudes before.  And they are all bullshit.

If I told someone that I was 35 – because that is the way that I feel sometimes – they would laugh. Or snicker. Or roll their eyes. Because me being 35 years old just doesn’t pass the straight face test.

If I am filling out a form at the doctor’s office and it asks for my age, filling in the blank with the word “stoic” or similar attitude, I think the doctor and her staff would think I was loopy. And they would be right.

I usually have a pretty positive state of mind, but if a friend asks me how old I am today  and I say “Pretty positive, thank you!” it is likely that my friend will suggest that I have a hearing test. Or see a psychiatrist.

Because all of these motivational chestnuts about staying young by thinking young may help you have a better life, but they cannot, can NOT, change how old you actually are. Despite all of these admonitions to have a good mental attitude and behave like I don’t care about my age, the fact is this:

I am 59 years old as of today.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that I should have quit calling myself “middle aged” many years ago. As Barry Cryer might say, “how many 118 year old woman do you know?” Even though the average age at death is climbing, fewer than 100 people in modern history have been documented as reaching the age of 114. According the the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy of a female in the United States is a shade over 82 years. That means “middle age” is more factually placed when a woman is in her early 40s.

But still I cling to the phrase “middle aged” as a descriptor, even though I am quite a few years past the fact. And I think I will hold onto that phrase for 2014, because society seems to be so accepting of middle age throughout a person’s 50s. It passes the straight face test, even if it is mathematically unsound.

But in January of 2015, I am officially moving to old age.

Where do you think the line between middle and old age should be?