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Health and Wellbeing

70 is the New 65: When Does Old Age Begin?

Emily Trix Carver

Emily Carhan

20th January, 2022

older couple dancing

70 is the New 65: Here is the age when you officially get old

When do we start getting old? It’s an age-old question about, well, age.

Usually, retirement has been used as the benchmark for the beginning of old age. But given the changing nature of life in Britain, can we still class this as elderly?

The answer is no according to research by Oak Tree, which reveals that 70.2 is officially the new old age.

Our experts crunched the numbers on everything from life expectancy and retirement, to the average age people buy a house, pay off a mortgage and become grandparents; we then collated the data to determine when old age really starts in Britain.

What Age is Old?

Traditionally, 65 has been widely acknowledged as the entry point into old age. That’s because, up until recently, this was the age at which men could officially retire and start drawing down their state pension.

But times are changing and with them are our definitions of what constitutes ‘old age’. Over recent years the age of retirement has increased to 68, with calls to extend it to 70 by 2050.

We’re not just working longer either, we’re living longer too. In 1971 the average life expectancy in the UK was 72.7, yet fast forward to today and that figure stands at 81.2, which means we’re living a full nine years longer than we did 50 years ago. What’s more, with new innovative solutions to our mobility needs - people are living better for longer.

Couple hiking on a trail

Changing Times

Of course, age is more than just a number, which is why increasing life expectancy can only tell us part of the story of Britain’s new old age.

Changes to societal norms are also changing the way we see getting older, blurring the boundaries between middle age and old age. In general, Britons are taking longer to achieve life’s landmarks than previous generations have.

Take parenting for example. Half a century ago, the average age someone in the UK became a parent for the first time was 28.1. Today, however, it’s taking us a full four years more (32.2) to add to our families.

Even once we’ve had kids it’s taking our little darlings longer than ever to fly the nest. Spiraling property prices and student debt mean that today, the average age when young people leave the parental home, is 23 a significant increase on previous generations.

Indeed, roughly speaking, the age at which parents were on average free from their kids has increased from 49 in 1971 to a staggering 55 today. It’s perhaps no wonder then that the age at which most of us will become grandparents has increased to 68-years-old.

Table of difference between 1971 and now 2021

Why 70.2 is the New 65

With all of these major milestones arriving much later in our life’s journey, it’s perhaps no wonder that the boundaries between what we understand as middle age and what we might term old age, have become blurred. Add in rising life expectancy and it’s clear that our perception of what constitutes old age needs to change.

So what age should we now consider old?

By conducting a statistical analysis of a variety of factors we’ve discovered that 70.2 is the new gateway to old age.

That’s no doubt good news for those of us who want to eke out our middle years for a little longer, but it’s also good news for those of us getting a little longer in the tooth too. Recent research into the wellbeing of Britons has found that people tend to be happier, more satisfied and feel a greater sense of self-worth as they approach ‘old age’. And with 70 years of age named as the peak of a person’s happiness, it’s clear that 70.2 really is the new 65.

Quote: Older people are more confident and are reported happier which means our view on older age should be seen more positively

Director at Oak Tree Mobility Tom Powell commented on the research;

‘As a society, we are aging slower, giving us more time in our twilight years to enjoy the things we love in life. This could be socialising, spending time with the family or doing the things we couldn’t do during lockdown.

Older people are more confident and are reported happier which means our view on older age should be seen more positively.’


Oak Tree Mobility identified the new old age by analysing statistics such as peak happiness, the average age people are becoming grandparents, adult life expectancy and the age at which kids leave the parental home. The results were then indexed and compared using a specific formula to determine the point at which we can be considered to enter old age in 2021.

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