As humans live longer than ever, it is not surprising that what we define as middle age is also shifting upwards.
A study conducted by researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Stony Brook University confirmed this, as HuffPo reports:
The researchers used projections of Europe’s population until the year 2050 to look at how an increasing life expectancy changes the definition of “old.” They used different rates of increases, ranging from a stagnant life expectancy to one which grew 1.4 years per decade, to look at the portion of the population who was considered to be old. They looked at both the conventional definition, which considers people over age 65 old, and a new measure, which advances the threshold for old age as overall life expectancy grows.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, say that as the life expectancy increased with the new measure of old age, the proportion of older people in the population continually fell. The researchers say that we must adjust the threshold we use to determine old age, otherwise the proportion of older people will grow as life expectancy increases.
“What we think of as old has changed over time, and it will need to continue changing in the future as people live longer, healthier lives,” Scherbov said.
It is amazing to live in a time when humans are pushing the limits of both longevity and quality of life: not only are we adding more years to our time on Earth, but we are increasingly managing to maintain relatively healthy mental and physical faculties (especially with regards to Blue Zones and other countries where centenarians are increasingly common).
Given the rapid gains in medicine, nutrition, and public health, who knows how much longer and better people will continue living over the course of the 21st century.