According to science, this is the age that means you are officially old

Thanks to a confluence of dietary advancements and a booming cosmetics industry, old age is a variegated process in western culture.

For some, it denotes physical deterioration, while others define elderhood by a decline in zeal. No matter the conditions, the inevitable biological affair seems to begin around the age of 57 for the majority of Americans.

This median was derived by a new OnePoll study of 2,000 US participants, commissioned by LetsGetChecked.

Most health systems recognize either 55 or 65 as advanced, given that the official age of retirement in the US is 66 years and 2 months. Older adults between the ages of 65 and 74 are often characterized as being early elderly and those who are 75 years of age and older are often referred to as being late elderly.

Middle age is a little tougher to pin down by chronological age alone but one could reasonably place it somewhere between 36 and 55 if they exclude relevant lifestyle factors, pre-existing conditions, diet, and region. 

Turn and face the strange

The respondents of the new One Poll report were asked about the aspects of growing older that they dreaded most.

Declining health (39%) wrinkled skin (36%), weight gain (36%), gray hair (35%) hair loss (34%) losing the ability to take care of oneself (34%), age spots (34%), being viewed as “old” (33%), financial instability (33%), and loss of faculties and or independence (19%) were the anxieties occasioned the most frequently.

The portion of participants anxious about financial security as they enter old age (19%) was dwarfed by the nearly half of respondents (45%) who admitted that they were not actively contributing to retirement in any capacity.

Thirty-four percent of the participants who are not saving confess that they have a hard time preparing for a version of themselves that has yet to materialize, choosing instead to focus on their present circumstances.

The remaining 55% of this demographic who are making efforts to invest in savings for their would-be golden years said that they are saving about 19% of their monthly income, ironically enough.

Financial experts recommend an annual retirement savings goal of 10% to 15% of your pretax income as a broad rule of thumb.

Fortunately, many of the Americans involved in the new report are practicing prudence in other ways. Sixty-four percent try to stay informed about their health status and check updates.

“For example, the average participant said that breast cancer screening should begin at the age of 36, but the American Cancer Society recommends the age of 40; and the average participant said that colon cancer screening should begin at the age of 40, but the ACS recommends the age of 45,” scientific research expert, John Anderer adds.

Unfortunately, a comparable majority expressed anxiety about colon cancer screenings in particular, even if 85% of the participants who should be getting screened for colon cancer said they are either overdue for a checkup or haven’t even been tested at any point at all.

The most cited reasons for this short-sightedness are as follows:

Worry over the results (32%)
Lack of insurance (31%)
Not believing they are at risk (29%)
Embarrassment/uncomfortable (29%)
Not having any relevant symptoms also came in at (29%)

According to screening guidelines everyone should be tested for colon cancer starting at the age of 45 every two years, and if a person has a family history of colon problems or notices symptoms they should be tested even sooner,” Anderer continued.

On the topic of screening routines, some were more informed than others. Fifty-two percent of the survey pool were unsure of the tests and checkups that were of unique importance for elderly citizens, and an additional 52% said they were too busy to worry about medical testing right now. Thirty-seven percent feared that they are not getting tested for serious conditions as often as they perhaps should be.

“While to most age really is just a number, this survey shows that whatever that age may be, most alarmingly people are not prepared for it, mentally, physically, medically, and financially. Ignoring issues will not make them go away, it may even make them worse, plan for your future. It is better to be prepared before it is too late,” the authors conclude.

CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com