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Who are the Young-Old?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The term “young-old” is sometimes used to describe older adults who are retired, but still active. The activity level of the young-old often defies stereotypes about normal behavior for older people, as many people are under the impression that retired people become inactive and detached from society, when in fact the opposite can be just as true. Thanks to advances in medical care, many retired people enjoy active lives long after retirement, and their activity level actually keeps them healthier.

Gerontologist Bernice Neugarten is generally credited with coming up with the idea of the young-old, describing this age group in the 1970s. She argued that existing age divisions were too divisive and not flexible enough. The young-old are generally placed between 55-65, ages which are not quite elderly, but not middle-aged either. Unlike the old-old, the young-old are capable of physical activity, and many of them use this capability.

After retirement, many of the young-old take advantage of newfound freedom to go adventuring, taking hiking trips, camping trips, and other treks all over the world. A number of travel agencies have even arisen to cater specifically to this demographic, providing trips with like-minded young-old. In some cases, these active older adults outshine members of younger generations, thanks to their high level of physical health.

The young-old belie the stereotype that older people are fragile, withdrawn, and unable to keep up with progress in society. They are robust, healthy, engaged individuals who may choose to be active in their communities in addition to engaging in athletic activity which can include cycling, skiing, running, horseriding, rock climbing, rafting, and a variety of other activities.

Some members of the young-old chafe at stereotypes about the elderly, feeling that people unfairly classify them as frail and helpless, rather than judging them on their own merits. Some may choose to join organizations which fight ageism in an attempt to inform people about the diversity of older adults, and to lobby for laws which outlaw discrimination on the basis of age and support the goals of older adults.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon19149 — On Oct 06, 2008

can i know the list of problems faced by older people

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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