This is crazy. The New York Times blog Well had a post up yesterday about a compelling new study on aging showing that, on average, older people feel about 13 years younger than they really are. Talk about "young at heart"!
The University of Michigan and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin conducted the study:
Researchers surveyed 516 people between the ages of 70 and 104 who were taking part in the ongoing Berlin Aging Study in Germany, asking a series of aging-related questions, including how old they typically feel compared to the age on their birth certificate. Although individual responses varied, the average gap between chronological age and subjective age was 13 years. Among study participants who were particularly healthy and active, the gap between subjective age and actual age was even wider.
This brings up the discussion of what cultural expectations are of older folks compared to how they really feel. Jacqui Smith, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, says, "We are somehow aged by the culture we live in. It's about how we should look, when you should retire - sometimes those stereotypes are a little out of date.''
Smith also makes an interesting fact that we wish we were older when we're kids, but once we hit our mid twenties, we begin to see ourselves as younger. Other studies have even shown that people as young as 40 and 50 feel about 20 percent younger than they really are.
Do you feel younger than your actual age? By how many years?