At 16 years old, we like to think we are young adults. After all, turning 16 allows us to commandeer a motor vehicle, even though we are still not intelligent enough to vote. At 62, you can elect early social security distributions, which by definition could mean old. For an 18 year young adult, 40 is old and 60 is way old. In France, the young recently rioted so that they can collect pensions at 62. (They’ve pre-determined that after 62 they are done).
And somewhere between young and old we have middle age. How is that category defined exactly? Not young, not old.
For anyone dying (not of old age) to know the best way to slot someone (yourself?) into one of the three general age brackets (young, middle age, old), there is an easy formula. For a 100 year old person (perhaps your projected lifespan), you discount the first and last 15 years and divide the balance into thirds.
Since we are describing vital adults, we discount infancy and early teenage years as well as a geriatric period (where there is diminished functionality). As an example, suppose you are destined to be a centenarian. You would subtract the first and last 15 years and be left with 70 years. Dividing those 70 years into three equal parts gives you about 23 years per stage, what we might call a generation. Therefore, young would be more or less from 16-39 years old, middle age from 40-63, and old from about 63-85.
If however, your family normally croaks off at the normal lifespan of 79, then the formula is slightly different. Everyone grows from birth to 16 years at approximately the same rate. However, we croak off at different rates depending how we’ve lived our lives. Therefore, there is another sub-formula to determine diminished functionality below 100, but to save time, it’s about 5 years for every decade. If you live to 80, then you’d only need to subtract 5 years from the top end (rather than 15). So in the case of average lifespan of 79, the example would be to deduct the first 15 years but only four from the top end (to compensate for lesser diminished functionality). The calculation would be 79 minus 19 (15 young +4 diminished) = 60/3 = about 20 years/stage. In this example, you’d then slide into middle age at 35 and old age at 55.
Of course when we describe people young, middle age, or old, no one goes through a formula. We plug them in where we think they are. And we keep it simple making middle age a general range of 40-65.
Still, I went through the exercise because I entered a new (transition) decade about a week ago. The formula told me I have a few more years in the middle-age stage (if that hadn’t worked, I would have stayed with the general range).
What made the old-age stage appear soberingly near was seeing DOD recently. He was a young 24 years when I was born. And there is not much time between 0 and 24. A damn short amount of time. I’d better make sure that the time is well filled. So I’d better do everything I can to stretch middle age.