How Old is Middle Aged?

How old is middle aged? It is a bit ambiguous; definitions vary, but is said to between “young adulthood and old age.” This is typically somewhere in the range of 45-65 depending on the source.

Despite the idea that by the time we hit our late 20s we have fully developed; scientists have discovered that we continually change as we experience new things in our lives. This continues throughout our entire lives as we are shaped by these experiences. 

What does it mean to be Middle-Aged?

“Older Americans in a Sea of Youth”

Middle age is an interesting topic, as it is somewhat vague. It gives the sense of not being anywhere, or being anything. You’re not young, but you’re not old or even close to be considered elderly.

Older Americans may fear this time of their lives and worry about finding what’s important to them and if they will still be happy. They are past the time in their youth where they were striving to develop economically, relationally, and personally. But they haven’t yet reached retirement and the relaxation stage as those in old age typically do.  During this stage of life several changes occur. 

Physical Changes in Middle Age

As we reach middle age, visible signs of aging start to increase. Women will typically experience this more rapidly, especially if they have additional health issues such as Osteoporosis. They will begin to experience Menopause and the side effects associated with it.

As older Americans our skin starts to change and our physical fitness and aerobic performance decline. Personal lifestyle choices, activity level, and eating habits play a huge role in the physical changes we see during middle age. It’s never too late to keep yourself happy and healthy through middle age and beyond, by addressing these important areas of your life. 

Cognitive Changes

This is also where older Americans begin to see cognitive changes. Typically, these are not as noticeable as they will be in old age, because we can still compensate for any slight changes in our mental abilities. If these changes are noticed early on in middle age, the symptoms can be slowed and managed going forward. Changes in diet, medication, and lifestyle can play a big role in our cognitive abilities, and can even improve our mental state. 

Social/Personality Changes

As older Americans our focus begins to shift. We are less driven and ambitious than when we were younger, and focused more on finding contentment. This is where people reevaluate their life decisions to align with what they find personally important.

Despite the typical association with a “midlife crisis,” most people find this stage of life rather tranquil, as they align lifestyle with their personal morals and beliefs. By focusing in on what they find important, they find happiness and peace they didn’t experience before. 

Perceptions Throughout the Years

In the past age was viewed as something to be respected. These people after all, had the most experience and knowledge; something that only came with age. In our current culture, youth is celebrated, while signs of aging are viewed as negative. This leaves our largest portion of the population feeling poorly about themselves and trying to hang on to the last of their youth. The perception in today’s society of what it means to be an older American is misguided by advertisements and those selling products to “keep us young.”

These advertisements invoke thoughts of illness, unhappiness, and infrequent sex; however, this couldn’t be farther from reality.  At this age, most parents no longer have children living in the home, and are able to refocus on themselves and each other. This is something they haven’t been able to do in 20 plus years. In fact, most people report being happiest during this time in their life. They feel more in control, connected to those around them, and content with where they are in life. 

Middle Age in Other Cultures

In other cultures around the world, middle age is often seen as something positive. In India elders are seen as the head of the household. They are the ones everyone turns to for advice, due to the experience they have gathered through the years. In many Asian cultures, disrespect of elders is considered socially unacceptable and children are expected to take care of their parents as they age. This is considered a duty, sign of respect, and appreciation to parents for raising them. However, as time and westernization effects these countries, these values are becoming lost. 

In the past, nursing homes would be considered unacceptable, and would make you a “bad child” in China. Now, where the one child policy remains in effect, and life span is longer than ever before, the strain on one child to care for and support their parents is difficult. Nursing homes have become more frequent as a viable option for care. In Korea it’s typical to have a large celebration for both the 60th and 70th birthdays, as children celebrate their parents moving into old age. In the past living beyond 60 was considered a big achievement; while today life-span is longer, this practice of celebration is still maintained. 

Aging in America

Despite what our western culture has told us about aging and the negatives of it. Older Americans are beginning to realize that it’s not that bad after all. In fact, many of them are happier than before and find that this is the most enjoyable time in their lives. They have created financial stability for themselves, cultivated valuable relationships in their lives, and now have the time to focus on what they desire for the rest of their lives. 

Conclusions on How Old is Middle Aged

If you find yourself answering the question, how old is middle aged with “my age!” don’t fear. Moreover, don’t let anyone else tell you how you should feel going into this stage of your life.

Embrace it, love yourself, and enjoy the best this stage of life has to offer. 

Further Reading in Aging

caring for a dying parent - a how to guide from medicare life health co. by crystal bayliss
attained age vs issue age in medigap pricing
what is long term care insurance for senior care
article from MedicareLifeHealth on what age do people call elderly

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