I’m old. How about you? 

I just turned 60. I’m old! A senior! Venerable! Entitled to respect! (And a few discounts.)

I’m perfectly happy to be Old.  My mother died far too young at 57. It breaks my heart to think of everything she missed by not reaching old age.

And yet when I call myself Old, I meet with resistance from fellow seniors, including one colleague at the library where I work who, although five years older than I am, always insists “I’m middle-aged!“

Am I middle-aged? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s unlikely that I’ll live to be 120.

Curious, I asked my Facebook friends: “Do you think of yourself as old?”

The comments flooded in:

I’m 64, but I don’t consider myself old. My mother is 90. SHE’S old.

I’m 71, but I don’t feel as old as I did when I was 60. Go figure.

I don’t think about my age at all. Just happy to be here. Although sometimes I’m shocked when I look in the mirror.

I am 65 and happy to be Old! I’ve known far too many who didn’t live long enough to enjoy this experience.

I am 63 and I’m with you. We’re Old. Not “late middle-aged” or “the wrong side of forty” or any of the other idiotic terms we seniors use to avoid facing the truth.

Even the young feel old sometimes

I am 35. I have recently started feeling old. Somehow, I was 25, then I blinked and I was 35. Oh my God.

Some people equate “old” with “retired” – or at least, no longer active

You’re not old if you’re still working

You’re not old if you’re still active

I’m 68 but I don’t feel Old. Maybe I will when I retire?

I’m 68, work full time as a college professor, just cut a new CD, write, love to landscape my yard, have embarked on a new career of antiquing, go to the gym nearly every day and am hiking in Arizona for the winter. A friend asked not long ago if I think I’m going to live forever.

Old means spending your time doing nothing and complaining about your aches and pains – both of which I excel at! But I limit the time I allow myself to wallow… because I don’t want to be Old.

So many seniors just don’t like the O word and prefer a different term:

Old? It’s a horrible word. Old is worn out, negative, derogatory. You are none of those things and nor am I.

I’m a 62-year-old retired physician. I resist being labeled Old – maybe because I don’t want to be considered an “irrelevant old codger.”

I am 71 and have left middle-age. Senior? Bleh! Old? Not yet. For the moment, I’m “free-floating.”

I don’t think of it as old. I think of it as “having some mileage.”

I’m Jewish. I prefer the term “AltaCocker.”

Elaine Stritch said you are never old. You’re just Older. That works for me.

At 70, I’m no longer middle-aged. But I don’t yet identify as Old. There ought to be a term for that. “Almost Oldster?” “Codger-in-training?”

Are you really only as old as you feel – or look?

I am 60. I work 12-hour shifts. On my days off, I climb mountains and then ski down them. Do I feel old? No!

I’m 60 but I don’t consider myself old. Even when my body feels old, in my heart, I’m still 35.

Old is always at least ten years older than you are. My body is the age it is, but me? I am not old.

I’m 65 and lead an active life. But I have to admit that I hate the way my arms look in short sleeves and the pain in my arthritic knees and hands.

I’m a young 68 and don’t think of myself as a senior. But my legs? They definitely feel (and behave) like an elderly person’s legs.

When I turned 60 I ditched my 49-year-old boyfriend, who was always coming up with new health-related excuses for not being intimate. I’m happy to have left the 50s (and him!) behind. Not feeling old at all.

Or is it the company you keep?

I’m 64 and about to attend my first “I’m Getting Medicare” party, thrown by a retired guidance counselor who became an air hostess at 62, because she’d always wanted to be one. I try to surround myself with people who are open to adventure and learning. To me, Old signifies somebody who has given up thinking of new things she can do and challenges she can meet.

I am 64. Yeah, I am OLD!!! And I practice Yoga with young people three times a week. Start practicing yoga. Start NOW!

My favorite response?

I’m 60 and call myself old when there’s a discount to be had. Otherwise, I’m a babe.

Are you old? 

 

Roz Warren writes for the New York Times, the Huffington Post and many other publications. She recently appeared on the “Today Show.” You can read more of her work at www.rosalindwarren.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @WriterRozWarren.

Read more by Roz on Senior Planet

38 comments
  • Marie Jude
    REPLY

    I am on the uphill decline I guess you’d say…… just turned the ripe “OLD” age of 69 and not so sure how I got here, for I was 45 just a few years ago. I keep very busy with a Realtors 24/7 life and 5 wonderful little ” YOUNG” ones to fill up the heart. I can honestly say, I feel like I did when I was 45 physically, maybe with a little rust around the edges but a little Fish Oil keeps those parts in working order, no truly, I am blessed with good health thus far, Thank the Dear Lord, and hope and pray it lasts for another 20 years.. what upsets me more than anything is, I do feel so young , but seeing the person in the mirror in the morning says something different and facing reality of my true age is harsh. When I sit too long or have too much time to think, then i am 70 or maybe even 90, for too much time will play tricks on the mind and the downside of growing old creeps in… so take it from this 45/69 year young person and keep moving , I pray you can :) you are all in my prayers !

      • Kathy Roselli
        REPLY

        Actually my just completed film(K-Rose Productions) is called OLD?! I am 67.
        Here is the blurb:
        OLD?! is a 55 minute documentary showcasing over seventy people with poignant stories and plain-speak wisdom about the life journey of aging. These individuals, from 10 days to 101 years old, offer funny, touching and inspiring stories as they share their perspectives about what it means to be old. Throughout the film OLD?! invites us to embrace our own aging process.

  • Carolann
    REPLY

    eewww I hate that word. And I never use the word hate either but today I will lol. I’m 58 and I don’t feel old at all! Yikes! Great post…made me laugh and feel good, and cry at the same time lol.

  • Lois Alter Mark
    REPLY

    I love all these responses! It’s amazing how everyone’s perceptions of “old” are so different. As for me, I feel like I’m still 25 so I have no idea what you’re talking about :)

  • Annamay
    REPLY

    There are so many wonderful statements here — and such variety! I’m 88 and except for my knees, I’m not old except when my mirror tells me! As a one-time commercial artist, I’ve lived “creatively” most of my life — with an insistence upon enjoying it. So it’s a habit.

      • Barbara, Senior Planet editor
        REPLY

        Hi Annamay, our comment notification system notifies users when there is a new comment in a thread they participated in – not necessarily a reply to their comment. If you prefer not to receive email notifications for new comments in this thread, just let us know and we’ll unsubscribe you.

    • Roz Warren
      REPLY

      “I’m not old except when my mirror tells me.” I hope that I’ll feel that way at 88. I live creatively too, and also with enjoyment. So there’s hope!

  • Joy
    REPLY

    I enjoyed reading this, Roz. It’s a good discussion of how age has a biological and a social aspect. What is old? Is it a number, a feeling of the body, a feeling of the mind, a social status? There’s much to think about, although I’m sure, that as you’ve shown, it depends on each of us to define it for ourselves. Applying a definition to someone else though is a bit trickier. Thanks for this discussion!

  • Anne Louise Bannon
    REPLY

    I may be feeling older than I am at the moment simply because the insomnia is kicking up pretty badly these past few weeks. But mentally, I still feel like a five-year-old.

  • westomoon
    REPLY

    You think our peers hate the word “old”? Try using “geezer”!

    I started attaching these labels to myself in my 50’s, partly because I thought it was funny and partly because I have known some truly splendid old people and I don’t want to cheat myself of this very interesting stage of life.

    I’m with Carol and Jill — just because society has defined “old” in a negative way does not mean I have to be limited by that definition. When I was growing up, “woman” was a word polite people didn’t use, for heaven’s sake, and look what has happened since women took control of defining what a woman is!

    There is such an amazing change of perspective from the vantage point of one’s geezer years! No wonder societies used to have councils of elders — we think differently, and more wisely. I love being beyond what I’ve come to think of as the “desire years,” in a Buddhist sense — it is wonderful not to be constantly wanting things. Young people, and people who desperately want to be young, sometimes seem just shallow and itchy to me.

    I sent 40 years being an adult who wasn’t old, and I enjoyed them very much. Now I am enjoying life as an adult who IS old. And as long as I don’t let myself get penned in by someone else’s definition of this stage of my life, I plan to keep right on being fascinated and delighted by the changes nobody told me were part of the deal.

    • Roz Warren
      REPLY

      Great comment. thanks. I sometimes refer to myself as a geezer or codger. Claiming the word and having some fun with it makes sense to me. And I love what you said about moving beyond the “desire” years.

  • Joan Stommen
    REPLY

    Fun post, Roz! I always say older, not old. Someone said being active and engaged makes a difference in how we view ourselves. And attitude. I never planned to grow old alone….and widowhood sure says old. But I’m not down nor done. Love your humor and way with words!

  • Ruth Curran
    REPLY

    I love the last comment (your favorite) so much! I don’t think we simply deserve respect and wisdom because we are older — we have to earn those over the course of time. I do think that if you stick around long enough you should get a discount!!!

  • penpen
    REPLY

    i don’t feel I look, act or dress like my grannies or my mom when they were the age I am now. And I deeply resent being offered a seat on the Metro. I guess I’m fooling only myself–but why not?

  • Debbie D.
    REPLY

    Happy Birthday from a fellow Aquarius! ☺ I just turned 60 as well (Jan. 27). My body feels fairly old most days (arthritis), but in my head I’m about 35! ;) Hubby and I celebrated my birthday by going to a rock concert – my favourite activity. That’s probably not dignified for an “old” person. LOL

  • Jill
    REPLY

    Well made point, that if we honored “old” as a more valued term and state, it could help dissolve stigma.

    In some adult development theories, they break “old age” into three categories: Young old age, middle old age, and old old age. This makes sense to me. Each range faces slightly different challenges socially, physically, and emotional

    I always have liked the quote: “We don’t grow old. We get old by not growing.”

  • Susan Jordan
    REPLY

    Well, I just turned 77, so I think that’s definitely old. But it’s okay to be old. I’m fortunate, I have my health and my mental faculties are intact (at least, I think they are). When I was 76 I could reverse the numbers and think of myself as 67 and that didn’t feel QUITE as old. But you can’t do that with 77. In fact … it’s a mental trick you really can never play on yourself again.
    I’m lucky that I spend time with high school students, because they help me think young. They’re sweet to me even though they know I am nearly as old as God. I direct them in high school musical productions, and I give them private voice lessons. I think they are terrific people, and I admire and respect them.
    Old is okay. It’s not great, for sure, but since you can’t do anything about the years piling up, do the things you love for as long as you can. That’s my philosophy.
    Oh, and less than two years ago I wrote my first novel. I just completed novel number 3. I think I may have more books in me!

  • Janie Emaus
    REPLY

    I love this! I’m way past middle age, but still feeling very young. Spending time with my grandchildren keeps me in touch with the younger generation. Spending time with my mom shows me where I’m headed and gives me patience.

  • Karen D. Austin
    REPLY

    There is so much variability in how people age based on genetics, environment and lifestyle choices.A person’s age is really a very poor indicator. And even if I were to have problems with energy, cognition and mobility, I think it’s best to be optimistic, to never give up, and to visualize having many good years ahead.

  • Wendl in Manhattan
    REPLY

    I’m old — happy to be it and say it. But thinking all of us between 65 and 100+ are similar in needs, interests or expectations is crazy, and that’s what Medicare, marketing, doctors, and advertising do. It makes me very sad that so much of society treats the realities of being older as something to mock or disguise.

  • Anna banana
    REPLY

    I am 71 and feel better than wen I was 35. I have two grown children and I spend my days in the senior centers socializing and playing. Life is god after the kiss move out. Joojoo.

    • Roz Warren
      REPLY

      “Life is good after the kids move out.” I agree, although in my case it’s partly because the kids now live in sunny California, where I look forward to visiting them in February.

  • jeanneinnyc
    REPLY

    I’m 68. Sure, I’m old – chronologically – and I’m not interested in finding euphemisms for it. Biologically? Maybe not so old. I took up skiing and cycling three years ago and love ping pong. I’m going on a cycling/hiking/kayaking trip to New Zealand next month and then on to Australia to visit a friend. I participate in activities in three gyms – yoga, spin and various fitness classes. I skip and play basketball with my grandchildren. My son-in-law (who is 40 and very handsome) told me that a store clerk who had seen me with him asked the owner if I was his mother or his wife. Yes, I’m old and getting older but enjoying so much in spite of it.

    • Roz Warren
      REPLY

      “I’m not interested in finding euphemisms for it.” Well said! I won’t be kayaking in New Zealand anytime soon, but you’ve inspired me to try to find a local ping pong table. LOVED to play when I was a kid. I probably still would.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To complete your subscription, click on the Submit button and look for a confirmation email in your inbox. If you do not see our email in your inbox, please check your spam folder.

See our privacy policy