At What Point Is Someone Considered Elderly?

at what point is a person considered elderly

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in most developed countries old age starts at 60 years and above.

The WHO’s reports show that the world’s population is aging rapidly. According to their predictions, the world’s population over 60 years will double between 2015 and 2050, reaching 2 billion.

People are living longer today, shifting the distribution of a population worldwide towards older ages. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2060, one in four Americans will be 65 or older.

With life expectancy increasing, the point at which someone is considered elderly also changes. For example, in North America, people are considered old at 70 and 73, for men and women respectively.

Ten years ago, people were considered old at age 59. However, today you would be considered old at 70, research shows.

In developing countries, people are considered elderly when they retire and start receiving some form of pension.

While longer life offers opportunities to aging people and their families, health issues often dominate older people’s lives, causing a decline in their mental and physical well-being. Poor health in older people may make coping with aging changes more challenging to deal with.

Although no one can escape the natural process of growing old, for most people, adapting to aging is challenging because there is usually a gap between our expectations and how growing old looks like.

The decline in mental and physical health, the death of loved ones, and reduced mobility and socialization opportunities are stressful for most people. Many seniors find it hard to adapt to these changes, reject home care services, and refuse to move to a senior living community.

This can be challenging for older person and their family and caregivers.

How old is an Elderly Person?

There are three aspects of aging: biological, psychological, and social. Most people transition through life stages in characteristically orderly ways, so in most western countries, you would be considered an elderly person at the age of 65 to 70. This is the age when most people retire and start receiving some form of pension.

The normal aging process has five primary stages:

  • Independence
  • Interdependence
  • Dependency
  • Crisis management
  • End of life


This stage of adult life means that a person doesn’t need help with activities of daily living as they can handle pretty much all of their needs on their own. Although mental and physical health may be declining, this decline doesn’t impair a person’s day-to-day life.

People in this stage of aging are typically between 60 and 70 years of age.


At this stage of aging, physical activity and mental health may be deteriorating, making cognitive tasks and ADLs more taxing. An aging person may need a caregiver to help them with activities of daily living such as cooking, grooming, driving, and similar.

People in this stage of aging typically in their 70s and 80s.


By this stage of aging, a person typically cannot handle their ADLs independently. More than 30 percent of U.S citizens aged 65 years or older have some disability that prevents them from living independently and actively. According to the ADA statistics, these numbers increase with chronological age, do more than 50 percent of seniors aged 75 and older experience some disabling condition.

Most aging adults develop chronic diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, or dementia. Other seniors experience injuries or develop mobility problems, seeing or hearing, impairing their quality of life dramatically.

Many aging adults reach this stage by their late 70s and beyond.

Crisis Management and End of Life

People who reach these final two stages of the aging process need almost 24-hour care and assistance. Because of this, most people at this stage stay in assisted living facilities or hospice care.

While many aging adults reach this stage in their late 70s, some may enter it earlier, while others might not find themselves in the final aging stages until much later.

Aging adults often experience various health issues that prevent them from performing activities of daily living (ADLs) and going about their daily lives. The most common health conditions people age 65 and older experience involve respiratory diseases, heart disease, vision or hearing loss, dementia, and mental health disorders (most commonly, depression.

Many aging adults also experience a lack of respect and ageism in their communities.

The term ageism refers to stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination against older people or treating a person less favorably because of their age.

You may have trouble finding a job, being refused travel insurance, receive poor health care service, or experience a lower quality of service in public places because of your age.

Is 60 Years Old Considered Elderly?

Since life expectancy is increasing in people worldwide and age definition becoming a moving target, you may wonder what makes you elderly. Are you old at 60? Can you be considered a senior citizen if you still work? And what is the borderline between middle age and old age?

It is impossible to give matter-of-fact answers to these questions. Whether 60 years of age is considered elderly may depend on several factors.

While in most countries people attain legal adulthood at 18 (at 18, you can vote, get married, or buy a house), there is no universally accepted standard regarding the age at which people become elderly.

However, in most industrialized countries, the onset of old age is considered to be around 60 to 65. In the U.S, this is the age when society commonly considers you elderly because this is when most Americans stop working and become eligible for age-based assistance programs.

Who is Defined as Elderly?

Typically, the elderly has been defined as the chronological age of 65 or older. People from 65 to 74 years old are usually considered early elderly, while those over 75 years old are referred to as late elderly.

The word elderly has been used for hundreds of years, originating from the noun elder, which was considered a respected title. However, many people don’t like to think of themselves as elderly, as this adjective often carries the connotation of dependent and weak.

In terms of social aging, are considered elderly at 65 years of age, which is the age needed to qualify for Elderly Tax Credit, Medicare, or home health services (Medicare is also available for people with disabilities younger than 65 and people with End-Stage Renal Disease).

What is the difference between Old and Elderly?

Both words are used to describe an aging population. Old originates from the Old English word eald, meaning aged.

Elderly is derived from the noun elder, and it means “not quite an elder” – according to the origin of these two words, someone becomes old after being elderly.

In the past, aging individuals would be referred to as old. In recent decades, however, many people have used the word elderly as they believe it is the more sensitive or more politically correct way to address an aging population.

While some people object to being described as old, others resent being referred to as elderly. We live in a culture obsessed with youth, so being old is commonly perceived as unfavorable. Also, people often associate both terms with being feeble, of poor health, and useless.

Is 80 Years Considered Elderly?

A person is typically considered elderly when they reach an advanced stage of life past middle age. Today, with increased life expectancy, many people are unsure of how old is old.

If you define age by chronology, 80 years old is considered elderly since this is the number of years that have elapsed since a person was born.

According to a famous saying, “You are only as old as you feel,” your physical and mental health status can also define the age. If you are 80 but still independent and in good mental and physical health, you may not think of yourself as elderly.

Finally, you can define age by your social role. Some people consider themselves old when they become grandparents or when they retire, so in this case, 80 years can be considered elderly.

Is it Okay to Say Elderly?

Some people consider the term elderly to be offensive instead of calling themselves aging adults, older adults, or seniors.

These days, when people live longer, leading active and healthier lives, many believe that the term elderly should be thrown away altogether due to the stigma attached to this word. In western countries, the word elderly carries the connotation of being week, disabled, and dependent, so many people avoid using it when describing themselves and other aging individuals.

Is 75 Years Old Considered Elderly?

In most cultures, people aged over 70 or 75 years are considered elderly. However, aging is not a disability, and many healthy, active, and independent people don’t consider themselves elderly and feel uncomfortable when others treat them that way.

Many of the people aged 65 years or older with mental and physical health are well maintained are capable of actively participating in social activities and living independent lives.

Some authors define the age from 65 to 74 as pre-old age, while those aged over 75 are considered old. Similarly, one study differentiates the young-old from 60 to 69, the middle old from 70 to 79, and very old 80 years of age and older.

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