At what age is a person ‘elderly’?


By Chuck Woodbury
I recently came across a survey we conducted where we asked readers to tell us at what age a person should be considered “elderly.” See the chart below for the range of responses.

I am sure that if we asked this question to a group of college students, the results would have skewed younger. Every so often, for example, the name of one of my high school or elementary teachers will come up. When I think about it, I realize that when I was young I considered some of them “old.” But then, really, now considerably older, I figure they were probably in their late 40s or early 50s.

If you weren’t around when we conducted our survey, you may enjoy a sample of the comments left by the more than 2,500 readers who voted.

• “I am 59 feeling 45 except in the morning when everything aches. I have seen folks at 85 and some can run circles around me! I think you better be pushing 90 before I would call you an old timer. Most start to slow then and smell the roses.”

“I know so many full-timers almost 90 who are still going a lot better than me at 63. Maybe elderly is a frame of mind.”

• “‘Elderly’ is 10 years older than I am.

• “I am 70 and used to think my father was really old when he was 60. However, my grandchildren do not think of me as being old. Good news for me. I think age is just a number. How you feel and take care of yourself will leave the impression on others whether you are old or not.

• “I am a nurse and see mostly patients between the ages of 50 and 90. It always amazes me when I see someone who is 55 and I, too, would term them “elderly,” but only because of their health and appearance. Then again, I had a 77-year-old woman patient the other day who could have passed for 55!”

• “I am 67 and my wife is 70. We walked up to the service counter at Best Buy with a computer problem. A kid about 18 asked what was wrong. We told him and he replied, ‘Oh, Bill can handle that.’ He turned around, took about six steps and said to Bill, ‘The old couple need your help.’ I guess to an 18-year-old we are old – ha!”

“Old has very little to do with a calendar. It is all about mental attitude and physical condition. If you think you are old or you feel like you are old, YOU ARE.

“The older I get, the older old gets!

What do you think? Please leave a comment.


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Joseph Yake

While still happily towing (I’m a road camper, not a destination camper), I recognize some slowing tendencies. And I was born pre-WW2. While retaining my health and much of the motivation, I can’t help being conscious of the fact that I’m a over a half-century older than the attractive 27-year-old waitress at a diner that I frequent.

So I’m elderly…. (but still active).

Frank 🙂

Richard Hughes

At 72 I switched insurance companies. I had to take a physical that I am sure would have qualified me for a NASA moon shot. The Doctor said that I was in the shape of someone in his 40’s. Since it was on my past record that I had some problems swallowing bread, I was sent for an upper GI. During the procedure my esophagus tore and a lung collapsed. A year and 4 surgical procedures later, I was “elderly.” I have been dedicated to rebuilding and am happy, at 76, to consider myself recovering and no longer elderly. Daily exercise and attitude go a long way to keep the “elderly bug” at bay.

June Wall

Got my first horse and started riding at age 68—still going strong at 76. My 72 yo husband still runs 1/2 marathons.
Some years ago my 85 yo father broke his arm sliding into base, so guess I got good genes. Dad always said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are.”

Joel Hagler

I am 88 male going on 98…..My brain is working but the external body is collapsing.

So I think old is when you begin to deteriorate. In my case it was 80.

The obituaries show that 80-85% of folks die before 88.
P.S. I really hate that CAPTCHA stuff since the pictures are too small for my eyes.

Carl G

How old would you be if you didn’t count birthdays?

Bob Nettleton

I was elderly before now I’m young again.

Jeanette Handling

When my cousin and I turned sixty, he said we were old, but we were the young of the old. When we turned seventy, I said, “Welcome to the middle-aged of the old.” When we turn eighty, we’ll be the old of the old. When we turn ninety, we’ll be the walking dead.


I’m just 35, but somehow find myself in a 74 year old body. I think it is that new math they invented some years ago – there’s no way that 2019 minus 1945 can be 74. I just figure that one day I accidently walked into that space – time continuum thingy that I’ve heard talk about. Who would have thought that when I was 18 and fell off a box car and twisted my back that it would take this long to show up. I’m going to fight this all the way to the MRI machine!


Years ago, I discovered in talking with individuals that it is one’s mental age that means more than one’s physical age. So I make it a practice of asking a person’s mental age as this to me is more of an indicator of what I have observed regarding a person’s outlook and enthusiasm for living. Yes, I may be 76 with aches and pains and some health issues, but mentally I’m only 35 looking forward to many more productive and creative years.

Katalin Heymann

People always think I’m younger than I am because I have very little grey at 67. In contrast, my sister was very grey in her 50s. Unfortunately, I have mobility issues and need a rollator or I would probably appear younger. Elderly to me has always been someone really wrinkled looking in the face and hands. My mom got some good genes because she will be 90 this year and she definitely looks younger. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease has left her legs immobile with weak arms and hands.


About a year ago, at a family dinner, I posed the question “Who is considered elderly”. My 67-year-old brother answered “Anyone older than me!”
I think it is often a question of mindset. Even those with debilitating health issues can still have a youthful spirit!

Mark B

At 87, my Dad was vibrant, no change in mental acuity, traveled, did everything. After a heart operation he coded. They said he won’t make it until morning. Then they said he’d need dialysis for his remaining days, then 3x/week, then weekly, then not at all. They said he’d need a walker for the rest of his life. After rehab, he told the therapist next week he wouldn’t need the walker and a week later the walker was gone. Unfortunately 2 years later he succumbed to undetected stage 4 cancer


When I was younger, I thought growing older would take longer.

Terry Johnson

Old is when I can’t get out and enjoy my RV anymore. I just don’t think that will happen!

Bill Semion

The word is not elderly. It’s “seasoned.” 😉

Wayne Caldwell

I think I the ‘Rolling Stones ‘ from back in the mid-60s said it best, “What a drag it is getting old”. But at almost 70, I ain’t there yet.

Tommy Molnar

My friends and I call each other “old man” and “Geezer”, but in truth, none of us feel like we’re old (and we’re in our 60’s and 70’s). And by the way, how did this happen? How did I get this old all of a sudden? 🙂


My dad always told me
“Gettin old ain’t for sissies, you gotta be tough”
He was sooooooo right.