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Is “old” an age or an attitude?

In a society obsessed with youthfulness and staying young, ‘old’ can feel like a dirty word.

Rather than just a simple adjective, ‘old’ has come to represent something much more than your age, and is often used as a shorthand for a certain attitude or limited worldview.

Our perceptions of ageing and old age change as we get older – at the age of 25, retirement age feels old, while those in retirement often report feeling much as they did when they were 25!

Which begs the question – is “old” an age or an attitude?

Can you avoid being old even when you’re getting on in years, or is the process of growing old a natural part of life that can’t be avoided?

How do our perceptions of being old and ageing change at each stage in our lives?

Join our debate at Speakers Corner!

Is "old" an age or an attitude?

256 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Age Attitude

What are your views?

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nape
19th Nov 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
age is just a number I an 79 and I class myself as upper middle age and not old age.
julie63
3rd Nov 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
I was informed by my daughter recently that I am going to be seventy next year. This came as a bit of a shock as I thought I was going to be sixty nine from feeling young I now feel old. What a difference a year makes.
Lyndaw
31st Oct 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Ageing is much better than the alternative! It is also a state of mind. Our society, however, is obsessed by youth, as depicted in the media, but this is best ignored. Enjoy life while you are able is my philosophy.
suzy20016
29th Oct 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
I worked for many years in health and social care,where you get a huge mix of people.Some count their self's as old and infirm seeming to give up ,also you get the ones how age is no limit ,full fun ,minds sharp and want to be as independent as possible.My father -in-law is 90yrs young very active and loving life to the full.Yes Attitude is the answer to this some what awkward subject.
SandyE
11th Oct 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
How interesting indeed. I see this every day. It really bothered me at first when I moved into a senior apartment building, but not anymore. I love my neighbors, and it scared the hell out of me that I recreated myself. I am now healthier, stronger, and feel I have a new beginning.. not an ending. I have medical challenging.. just the aging process. I prepare my own meals, never eat out any more. Temple clean. We can stay healthy longer
Don't worry.. smiles Sandy
1BA
27th Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
My father is 97 and says age is not important it is attitude to life that counts. He loves life , he cooks, bakes, makes his own bread does his own washing and ironing. Pops says you only have one life and if he can annoy somebody everyday then his living is not in vain. Like I said Buckets of Attitude and I would not have it any other way.
SandyE
11th Oct 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Munsterlander
25th Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
Age is age-we cannot stop it and people age differently. I am old but like most Silversurfers I suspect I do not feel that old. It seems just yesterday I was a teenager and I still love my Rock & Roll-Led Zeppelin, The Stones and Pink Floyd...so am I am old codger or just a teenager stuck in an old codgers body....comments please.....
Beerbill
27th Sep 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
If your stuck so am I, and I for one refuse to grow up and act my age, age is strictly a number, how many years you have been around, never let that number define how you act, to a point. Can I hike those 6 mile mountain trails like I use to, no I cant, Can I still do it, yes, takes longer that's all. Every weekend I'm out with the kids , not mine, not acting my age, and damn proud of it
1
Thanks for voting!
I still feel young ,even though I am 73 ,I must admit that I have shock when I look in the mirror and see my mom looking back at me ,,,,but I'm always fooling around and making my children and grand children laugh ,,,I love life And so far life loves me
Yodama
22nd Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
It seems to be true to say that what you put your mind to or think you are, you become. ( no I don't mean becoming 18 again.!)
Exciting developments and research of the brain have found that Neuroplasticity: The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life is evident.

Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

Having a curious mind, interested in all things and trying not to worry about everything too much. Having a sense of humour and the ability to laugh easily all helps to stave off the ravages of age, for a while at least.

It's all in the mind as they say!
Dougie123
22nd Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
Life is a cycle - enjoy the ride, whatever the view!
Yodama
22nd Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
Or a hot air balloon, more sedate, hint of danger, great view.
I fell off my cycle, the view of the bush I landed in is unforgettable.
Dougie123
23rd Sep 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Indeed! The AMAZING progress in neuroscience will open up many new pathways for all. Happily, too, we will be moved from reliance on superstition and be able to seek refuge in researched facts! A sense of humour may be likened to the umbilical cord that feeds us with the opportunities to view issues differently.
LindaH56
22nd Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
Age is a number !!!
Its a true saying that how you look on the outside does not reflect how you feel on the inside...
Age is a frame of mind..
JessieB
22nd Sep 2017
6
Thanks for voting!
OK. To the outside world, I'm old. I am 65. This Government of course have me believe that us oldies are taking up space on the planet.
To me, I'm still fifteen inside. I might not be able to go out and play on the swings any more, but my memories of what it was like are with me still, and I can still feel myself beaming high, and jumping off,trying hard not to get hit by the swing !
I am still full of life inside, and if the wrinkles and greying hair say otherwise too bad.
Sadly, Society has lost respect for it's elders. But just remember all you younsters,if you don't die first, you too will age.
annptf
21st Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
My mom used to say that a friend of mine was "old" when she was born! At the same age, we were as different as chalk and cheese, she was very staid and cautious while I was roller skating and travelling.....

When I look in the mirror nowadays, and see an old lady (71) my husband tells me that my mind and attitude are about 20 years younger. That's what husbands should be saying, mind you......

"Old" age is an attitude
PatsyColchester
21st Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
I am 74 and having read the comments on here of so many people in their 80's and 90's, I have concluded that old must be attitude. I have cerebellar ataxia which affects my balance. I cannot stand without holding on but I do go to the gym, tai chi [seated] and walk long distances with my rollator. I think if I didnt have my husband, I could get old quite quickly. Social media also keeps me young.
Kobyhodge
21st Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
I've just spent 2 weeks with my 98 yr old father and in age terms 'old' is appropriate, but his attitude is to let nothing beat him, he does exercises daily, cooks 3 meals a day, still drives to the shops and to get his 'sweeties' (his term for pills) and does his own laundry, although does have someone to iron for him. I still feel young as I approach 71.
Lionel
21st Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
My father, now deceased 25 years, was the opposite to your father.

He was a tough old bird, ship's master in the Merchant Navy, Antique dealer, alcoholic and chain smoker. But at around 45 he began to behave old. I can't now say just how, but he did. He did spend much more time away from people, working in his workshop which would be called a man cave these days. I suppose he became a recluse, leaving business to his partners.

My mother and I felt he was giving up which, in the end he did.

In contrast, at 45 I was being divorced. Three years later married again and two years after that a grand child was born into our house, quickly followed by another. For one with no experience of kids that was a baptism of fire! We ended up raising them for 12 years, not an experience I would wish to repeat.

I'm now 66, have a chronically ill wife, 3 Border Collies and today have fitted a new toilet pan and cistern. Later I'll cook dinner and then snooze quietly for half an hour before opening the canine canteen.
Jloe
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
I'm 72 and still put makeup on every morning, if I don't I feel old. Silly I know, but I think age is just a number and I feel the same inside now as I did when 20, wiser though, I hope. I obviously look old now but I hope my attitude to life is not. Having my husband with me still also gives me a reason to be joyful.
JudithB26
21st Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
Getting oldER is compulsory, getting OLD is an optional. I knew a lady years ago, who when she turned 50, said that she is now old. Sad to say, that's how she behaved, so she became old by choice. I take my late parents attitude, try to keep up with the modern world and embrace change, as otherwise, we stagnate.
JeanS5
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
I say age because I feel the attitude is what we have came to expect from the youngsters these days, towards our so called 'ageing population'. I say to them, "with any luck you may have this privilege of growing old some day". Whether you have attitude or not, you will not stop the process of ageing.
jeanmark
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
Many years ago my oldest sister was asked by the younger women she worked, with what it felt like to have so many wrinkles! Her response "When you have as many wrinkles as this, you will at last know how what fun life is" This was from someone who endured one problem after another and survived to tell the tale!
BerylM7
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
I'm 75 yes I've slowed down but I accept that had a very busy life with work 4 children 9 grandchildren 1 great grandchild as long as I feel quite well and mobile which I work at gym swim and diet I don't smoke or drink staying well is partly up to me I'm enjoying life in the slow lane feel young at heart have a naughty sense of humour and find a way round all life difficulties The only thing I wish is that my children understand I'm getting older which I think they find it hard to do
GordonS17
21st Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
Tome age is just an attitude I believe the dare I say it OLD saying you are only as Old as you feel
GeoffDowey
20th Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
We should keep trying everything and never let age be an excuse to not enjoy all that life has to offer. I did not get past 21 in my mind and will always enjoy life, laughter and love.
Lionel
19th Sep 2017
6
Thanks for voting!
The three comments below are simply excellent. Thank you.

For some years I worked in the care industry, specialising in geriatric care. A couple of people from that time stand out.

One lady, an 86 year old whose husband, sadly then stricken with advanced Parkinsons, was quite nimble. She devoured the Times and Telegraph every day. Instead of getting a couple of hours off in the afternoon I found myself in deep, so well informed, discussion of politics, foreign policy and breaking news stories. All that and I hadn't had time to read the same papers!

In contrast, another chap had been a hydrologist during the War working directly under Churchill. Although quite fit and able in his mid 80's his mind remained in those War years. Difficult man to deal with.

Through experience I think the weight of answer to the question must go to attitude. That means age becomes a number.

While my wife and I can get about, by whatever means, comprehend the days news and see it as a development in a stream of events; while we may hold a reasoned conversation about the times in which we all live, our faith or an event that has hit the headlines then we haven't yet reached our dotage.

I've also cared for dementia patients. Those who refuse to accept their increasing limitations and get angry sink faster. But those who embrace each day they have feel joy and celebrate that day.

I'd like to be just that. Accept what is and celebrate each day I have.
jeanmark
20th Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
Lionel, you remind me of one of my patients. My first sister's post was caring for 'long-stay' female elderly care patients. One, a retired teacher aged 89 was unmarried and was always referred to as Miss ........ One day two young nurses were helping her get washed and dressed and part of the conversation was talking about their social life. She, in a loud voice, informed them both that when she died could they please make sure MISS was not put on her grave stone as she hadn't missed as much as they thought!!
Lionel
20th Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
That's just excellent, Jeanmark. I needed a laugh after a difficult day and you gave it me. Thank you.
CaroleAH
20th Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
That's brilliant, Jeanmark. Reminds me of my Mum (aged 90 and terminally ill with cancer) when two young ambulance-men came to transfer her from the hospital to a Care Home. The Ward Sister said "Joan, there are two young men here for you" - my Mum's response - "Oooh, I can only manage one at once". After a second's stunned silence, we all just cracked up and had a really good laugh - much needed, as you can imagine. My Mum, I hasten to add was a very "proper" lady and had been happily married to my Dad for 69 years! 🙂
BerylM7
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
I'm beginning to enjoy getting older and I'm getting naughtier its other younger people and there attitude that makes things hard I think a lot of doctors think you loose your marbles at a certain age it's their attitude that makes me cross
Sparkle45
19th Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
It is an attitude ... my mother 95 still had thoughts when she was much older ... and I do and I am 72 so there is still life at home .

Attitude keeps you young .... even so I look at myself and think where have the years gone so am aware of aging ... it is the spirit which rules ... it is true not everyone has a strong spirit.

I worked in care so saw many levels of aging ... bless
Wilf
19th Sep 2017
5
Thanks for voting!
Its both to a degree but especially an attitude. If you think young and keep fit by walking or swimming or even walking the dog as I do it all helps keep you active. It also helps to eat healthily. I do eat much better now than when a youngster and I also used to smoke in my teenage /twenties but thank goodness gave it up even though I used to love a Marlborough with a pint of Guinness and a packet of crisps!
jeanmark
20th Sep 2017
4
Thanks for voting!
Wilf, I agree with your thoughts but is is important to note that not all people have the ability to walk every day for what ever reason. A number of my friends, although fit and 'active' in their 80's, have disabilities that affect their mobility, but in their minds they remain young.
Lionel
21st Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
I don't think there's a benchmark at which we may say one is old or young. It is an attitude of mind, but ambition is tempered by physical ability.

Spring this year we put in a complete new kitchen. My nearly son-in-law, a good worker and fit chap, was working with me. After six hours he downed tools and declared he was going home. 'I can't keep up with you, mate, your work rate is too high.' Now retired, I know I may push hard for a few days and then rest for a day.

Alternating expending energy with rest. At 66 I find that is the secret. Fitted a new toilet suite today, so tomorrow I'll take it easy. These days I throw sticks for my Collies rather than chase them; no longer do I swim in the river with them. I miss that, Collies are such good fun when we swim together.

I'm not ashamed to lie in the morning, or retire early. My body is getting older, even if I don't agree with it, so it makes sense to pay attention to it's needs.
Wilf
21st Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
True Lionel you do need to pay some heed to old age but it is an attitude. When you are in your 20s you are not as fit as your teens and so life goes on. talking of dogs they show the way. Our old chap who passed away at 12 a few years ago still walked and ran but like a pig...all stiff and creaking bones but he still loved his walks. I just hope I will at 84 his years in human terms!
Lionel
21st Sep 2017
2
Thanks for voting!
Yes, Wilf, I'm with you on all of that.

My Blue Merle, now 98 in human terms, is a lean long legged Collie, way back bred for upland regions. At 2 chased a Roe Deer down the river bank and he was just yards from bringing it down. He's a ferocious beast. Oh what a feast that would have been!

These days he's still long legged but carries just a little bit of weight. Bright as a button. He still swims, chases sticks but is now somewhat slower. I delight in seeing him run, a supreme athlete now grown a little old. Whilst I was never an athlete (at 5 foot three, no chance!), we have, none the less, grown older together.

He still herds chickens and teen aged grand kids; a true disciplinarian. A well maintained Collie may last 25 years - I've known one to reach that age. Hopefully, we'll grow old together. I'd like that.

I suppose, on reflection, we measure our decrepitude against each other, not ever letting the other get an edge. Good for both of us.
Wilf
21st Sep 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
He sounds like a great character Lionel and at 98 who wouldnt be? I love collies we have a couple near us and they tend to round up all the local dogs and show them who is boss!
ecarg
19th Sep 2017
6
Thanks for voting!
Age is a natural process contentment comes from acceptance.Unfortunately many of us suffer from health problems as we age restricting our enjoyment of life.Maintaining an interest in local and world events and contact with others ,keeping the mind busy even if the body is less able is I feel beneficial to ones well being. I hope in future people will be educated to take better care of their health(reduction in smoking healthy eating etc) and that the next generation will be fitter than this one.After all they will need to be as they won.t be able to retire until about 70ish
jeanmark
20th Sep 2017
3
Thanks for voting!
You are right ecarg, ageing is a natural process that we have to accept. However, despite the health problems, I would prefer to age disgracefully by wearing purple and dancing in the rain and I know my step=daughter will expect me to!
JessieB
22nd Sep 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Yes, ecarg. Although I feel young in Spirit, I am happy in my aged wrinkles, and the joys that come with age because their are some! I have that time to stand and stare now, and drink in all of natures beauty---something you have no time for when you are working ,and raising families.
I can look at all those poor folks standing at bus stops waiting to start a full days work,and pitying them knowing that they probably have another 40 years of toil. I feel grateful to have lived long enough to enjoy my retirement.
I have seen some of my wishes come true. I wear my wrinkles with pride, and cannot see how people like Cher can really enjoy life--trying to look ,and act forty years younger than they are.Can they ever go home, and slump into a chair with battered slippers on their feet?

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