Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Old is Old?

I read today on WiseGeek that “Of all the people in history that have reached 65 years of age, half of them are living right now.” I can’t seem to find the source of this statistic but thought I’d share anyway. Think about this for just a minute. Do you remember when 50 was old? And I’m not just talking because you were a little kid and 20, 30 and 40 were also old. I’m talking about when people really did seem older at a much earlier age than they do now.

Have you ever heard of Grace Small? My mom shared The Hitchhiking Grandmother with me several years ago about this “elderly” woman who hitchhiked around the country. Looking at her pictures standing by the road, she does look like a little old granny. NOT. She was less than 50 when she hitched her first 1,000-miles trip. She did continue hitchhiking into her 80s, however, but the photos I saw were from a much earlier time.

So how old is old? Some say you’re only as old as you feel. Oops - some days that makes me pretty darn old! Some say that age is just a number. That may be true but it’s an easier position to espouse the further you are from the century mark. What I do know is that old is not nearly as old now for many people as it was during my grandparents' day.

Since my earliest memories, I’ve pretty much always planned to see 100. I don’t know where I got the idea. Maybe I didn’t realize how old 100 actually is, or maybe it was just a nice-sounding number. Now that I’m over halfway there, it still seems attainable and desirable. And it looks like I’ll be in good company with all the rest of you who are marching toward the triple digits with optimism and enthusiasm for life. Just keep remembering that the best years really are yet to come.

BTW - although I’ve included an Amazon affiliate link up there in the second paragraph, check your library before you rush out to buy the book.


  1. Wow, only 50? She does look older than that. It’s amazing how ages such as 50, 60 and 70 seem less old to me now.

    My 77 year old aunt recently passed away and I hear myself saying, “She was only 77.”

  2. Sorry to hear about your aunt, Felicia. Yeah, "only" 77 is how I feel now, too. I remember my little old granny looked much like Grace Small in the photo - but when I do the math, she was only in her mid-50s. Seems most women used to dress old during the middle years. I'm glad we have younger clothing style choices now:)