Ignoring meaningless platitudes like 'age is all in your mind', age is more than a number of years. 'You are as young as you feel' may be more apt because factors such as health, cognitive function and disability rates are important ways to measure age in all its dimensions.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
population researchers Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov seek to reorient the way demographers study population aging, providing a new toolbox of methodologies for demographers to better understand the impacts of an aging population on society, by measuring based instead on characteristics of people that change with age, including life expectancy, health, cognitive function, and other measures. 

Demographers have not traditionally used such measures in studies of population and society, instead using age as a proxy for those characteristics. But as lifespans get longer, the same age no longer correlates with the same level of health and other such characteristics.

"We use to consider people old at age 65," says Scherbov. "Today, someone who is 65 may be more like someone who was 55 forty-fifty years ago in terms of many important aspects of their lives."

The authors show that policy recommendations with respect to aging differ depending on exactly which characteristics of people are measured.

"For different purposes we need different measures. Aging is multidimensional," says Scherbov.

By reconceptualizing population aging to incorporate how people actually function, the study provides the foundation of a much richer and more realistic view of population aging.

Published in Population and Development Review.
Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis