Question & Answer: How Old is Old?

How Old is Old?

The University’s new Graduate Certificate Program in Gerontology begins this fall. Designed for working professionals who serve older adults, it is Pacific’s only exclusively online program. We asked a few people what they thought about aging. 

Kisha Milfort (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Kisha Milfort, age 21

First off there is a double standard. Men get older and become “distinguished” whereas women fade and become “haggard.” Aesthetics is the deciding factor. There is no middle ground. From this men are considered old at 60. Women peak at 30 with a lucky few making it to 40 depending on how well they stand the test of time.

Linda Hunt (Courtesy Photo)

Linda Hunt, age 59

Old follows the passage of time. Old knows no absolute attribute of negative or positive. Getting old is a natural process, where physical ability and wisdom may go separate paths. However, aging remains an individualistic process. Examples of factors contributing to individual differences are diet, exercise, genetics, medical care availability and meaningful socialization.


Mike Stelle (Photo by Colin Stapp)

Mike Steele, age "a young 65"

"Old" is more a state of mind than a physical state. To be young is to be fully open to the world's wonder and joy, to continue to grow in various dimensions, to embrace new challenges and experiences, to truly learn throughout life. When this stops, one is old.

Ty Elliott (Photo by Kelly Elliott)

Ty Elliott, age 5

I don’t know…infinity?

Mike Steele is distinguished professor of English. Linda Hunt is a professor of occupational therapy and co-director of the new Gerontology Program at Pacific. Kisha Milfort ’11 is a Pacific student. Ty Elliott is the son of Kelly Elliott, Director of Annual Giving. Jessie Cornwell ’10 is a Forest Grove writer and 2010 Pacific magazine intern. She’s 22.