How often have you heard someone say, or perhaps had this statement directed at you: "You're only as old as you feel." 

 They might really think that or they might be trying to make you feel good if you look tired after mowing a tiny lawn, or shoveling for only five minutes.

I remember a few years back when someone said that to me and my answer was: "Yes, but I can't physically do the things I could do just a few years ago."

Now, it turns out, if a recent survey is even close to being accurate, 57 is when you're old. I take issue with that. 

 OnePoll (whoever that is) did the research that was commissioned by LetsGetChecked (whoever that is). It showed that the majority of those polled would consider themselves to be "old" at 57.

 I don't know if most of those 2,000 people were just having a bad day, had just woken up, or had all just come from a disappointing doctor's appointment. But 57 is not "old."

Back when I was kid in the 1950s, if someone was in their 50s I thought that was fairly old. As I got older and the world of medicine changed, my definition of old changed to the 60s and then to the 70s. And it became normal to live into the 80s as time went on. 

Life expectancy in the United States has changed so much during my life. In 1950 life expectancy in Minnesota was 68. Hard to believe, right? By 1962 it was up to 70, by 1989 it was up at 75, and today the figure has risen to 78.93 in the U.S 

There are 40 countries around the world where it's 80 or above, starting with top dog Hong Kong where the average is 84.89. Our neighbors to the north in Canada are at 82.52 and in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden (82.87), Norway and Denmark, as well as Germany, countries where a huge percentage of Minnesotans' forefathers came from, all are over 80.

If you want to break it down a little farther, Minnesota is either third or fourth in all the rankings I saw for life expectancy in the U.S. For quite a few years Minnesota has been very high, with Hawaii usually leading the pack. The latest listing I found puts the Gopher State at 81, with males at 79 and females at 83. If you go by county, Sherburne leads the list of the four counties surrounding Princeton by coming in at 79.7, which puts it at 11th in Minnesota. Isanti is 44th at 78.5, Benton 66th at 77.4 and Mille Lacs 78th among the state's 87 counties at 76.5.

The survey mentioned above that shows "old" at 57 was reported on by the New York Post, one of New York City's newspapers. (It was also reported on a day later by Fox News but I'm sticking with the Post's story, which had more detail.)

"Growing old is inevitable" the story said (I'm surprised the Post's editors let that obvious statement get through), with two-thirds of respondents saying they are taking steps to prepare for aging, many of them citing health issues. Still, 52 percent said that while they were aware they should be completing some tests, the same percent reported feeling too busy to think about preventative measures. And more than a third (37 percent) said they aren't tested as often as they should be, proving that procrastination is alive and well.

The survey came up with these top concerns about aging: 1. overall health, 39%; 2. wrinkles, 36% (vanity rears its ugly head); 3. weight gain, 36% (tell me about it); 4. gray hair, 35% (better, I guess, than the next one); 5. hair loss, 34%. Others listed were not being able to take care of oneself, age spots, being seen as "old" (33%), financial security, and losing one's independence. 

Just to get a different perspective, I took a look at a 2019 survey by the Parker Health Group from New Jersey. It turned out to be more realistic, 51 percent of respondents saying you're old by the time you reach the 70s, while 46 percent drew the line at 80. Women were more likely than men, by a wide margin, to say that "old" begins in the 80s. Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Xers (1965-1980) said people start being old in their 40s (What do they know?), while 62 percent of baby boomers (1946-1964) and we in the silent generation (1927-1946) classified "old" as 80 and above.

People younger than 55 were more optimistic than their elders about what an 80-year-old could accomplish. Eighty percent of the younger group thought an 80-year-old could run a marathon but only 63 percent of older people agreed. Nearly three-quarters of millennials and Gen Xers thought getting a tattoo at 80 was OK, a percentage that went down when older respondents gave their answer.

The most positive thing about getting older? The most votes went to gaining experience and wisdom, followed by spending more time with family and a friends. The top fears about aging were physical and mental health issues, and running out of money. Discrimination at work because of  advancing age was also a concern, but also a problem for some who said discrimination happened because they were thought to be too young.

What does all this prove? Not much. Some limitations do come as we age but everyone is different. I just thought a study showing "old" to be 57 was, shall we say, ridiculous. Maybe they didn't check with anybody from Minnesota, a state where some thought to be "old" prove, day after day, that age can be just a number.

Next week: An annual Memorial Day column and an explanation of what happened when the American Legion baseball program in Minnesota was called off for 2020. And, heads up: There WILL BE a Memorial Day program at Oak Knoll Cemetery in Princeton.


 May 20, 1965 - Phil Kobbervig struck out 15 in a 5-3 win by Princeton over Zimmerman in town team baseball. Bob Nick and Rollie Benson each had two hits..

May 20, 1970 - Ron Deglmann struck out 13 and pitched a 2-hitter as Princeton beat Elk River 9-2 to win the Rum River Conference baseball title . . . The PHS track team edged Cambridge for its fourth straight RRC title. Mark Blaske set school records in the 100 (:09.9) and 220 (:22.3) and ran on the winning 880 relay team that set a school record at 1:35.7.

May 21, 1975 - Pete Steinhagen got the win as Princeton beat Milaca 18-4 to win the Rum River baseball title. Steinhagen and Mike Kapsner each had three hits and Steinhagen drove in three runs.

May 22, 1980 - Junior Todd Dery was co-medalist with a 76 at the boys RRC meet in Princeton but the team finished second with a 324 . . . Princeton was second in RRC girls golf as Milaca's Sheila Peterson shot a 74 at Milaca after shooting a record 33 for nine holes a few days earlier.

May 23, 1985 - Princeton won the girls Rum River golf tournament as eighth-grader Judy Bornholdt led with a 96. Others on the team were Stacy Siegersma, Karen Bromberg, Debbie Swanson, Kris Skarohlid and Lisa Orton . . . Mark Meier won the shot put as Princeton placed second in the RRC track meet.

May 24, 1990 - Kris Bottema won the shot put and discus as the Tigers placed last in the Rum River Conference meet . . . Paul Sather's two seconds and a fifth gave him 18 of Princeton's 25 points as the boys team placed eighth out of nine in the RRC meet. 

May 25, 1995 - The PHS girls golf team of Carolyn Cartwright, Nicole Koskey, Erin Young, Tina Hurni, Sheless Davis and Lu Schwochert won the conference golf title, the third straight for PHS. Davis tied for medalist honors with a 91 . . . Mike Henchen and Risman New were all-conference in tennis as a doubles team.

May 19, 2000 -  The PHS softball team (14-6 after a 0-4 start) won its 10th game in a row, 2-1 over North Branch, as Shannon Miller got the win to give the team a tie for the conference title. The previous decade PHS softball teams won or tied for seven conference titles . . .  Senior Chris Anderson was named Minnesota's Class A swimmer of the year by the state coaches association. He set four section records and then won two individual events at state and swam on a winning relay team . . . The Princeton Panthers got homers from Jason Miller, Mark Beattie and Brian Dorr in a season-opening 14-8 win over Mora as Miller got the win. Beattie and Miller each had four hits.

May 26, 2005 - In the final Rum River Conference track meet for PHS (the school moved to Mississippi 8 in the fall) the girls team placed second as Katie Loberg had two firsts and a second, and Tara Lemke had a second and two thirds . . . Princeton's 5-2 win over St. Michael-Albertville gave the PHS baseball team (9-9) second place in the Rum River as Brandon Knoll got the win and Zach Neubauer drove in two runs and scored two.

May 20, 2010 - Taylor Murphy shot a 75 to place fifth in the M8 Conference golf meet. Connor Whitcomb had an 82. Murphy had earlier shot a 70 at his home course to take medalist honors at the Princeton Invitational . . . The Princeton co-op hockey agreement with Milaca was dissolved, thus moving Princeton back to Class A from Class AA. PHS was 1-2 in its two years in AA section competition.

May 21, 2015 - Ben Pauly shot a 78 with a 38 on the back nine to led the Tigers to fifth place in a Mississippi 8 match in Princeton. Seventh-grader Jack Southard  had an 83 and eighth-grader Cade Wyluda an 85 . . . The girls golf team placed seventh at the Fergus Falls Invitational, led by Bri Dorr with a 92 . . . Matt Hofstad had a perfect 50-for-50 score for the Princeton trapshooting team at a meet.

(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years) and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)

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