Is 70 the new 60? Is 55 years considered old?
There are plenty of questions and debates over what old age means and who is considered a senior citizen. Improvements in health and an increase in working age has created confusion over terms like elderly, senior citizen, and geriatric.
In this guide, we discuss what age group is considered a senior citizen in the UK in various contexts.
At What Age Do You Become A Senior Citizen?
Traditionally, people were considered to be senior citizens after they reached their retirement age, which was 65 years. This was called the Default Retirement Age.
But that law was scrapped in 2011 and employers can no longer force people to retire at a certain age. Now, you can keep working even after reaching 65 years (with a few exceptions such as jobs that require physical strength/abilities).
So people don’t automatically retire at 65, making it harder to figure out when one becomes a senior citizen.
If we go by public opinion, most people in western countries consider 60 to 65 years to be the beginning of old age.
But not everyone ages the same way. Depending on income level, health, environment and genetics among other factors, one 60 year old may look and feel very different from another person of the same age.
Also, because of improved public health, people are generally healthier and stronger than before as they get into their 60s.
In reality, the definition of ‘senior citizen’ or ‘elderly’ varies based on the situation and context.
For instance, retailers offering senior discounts may consider people aged 55 and upwards to be eligible. Your doctor may recommend you start enhanced geriatric care when you reach 60 years.
You also become eligible for certain pensioner benefits once you hit a specific age.
At What Age Do You Get Your State Pension?
One of the most important benefits for senior citizens is the state pension. It is money paid to qualifying UK citizens after they reach the minimum state pension age.
Here’s a great video that explains everything you need to know about state pension.
Currently the state pension age is 66, but it is set to rise in the next few years. Based on this, we could define a senior citizen as one who is 66 years old or older.
Note that there are other kinds of pensions that may have different minimum age requirements.
For instance, you can agree with your personal pension provider to start taking personal pension at 60 years.
If your workplace provides a pension scheme, they may agree to let you take your pension as early as 55 years of age. Others require that you first attain the state pension age before you can dip into your work pension.
As you can see, even on official matters, the meaning of senior citizen can vary based on when you get your pension.
Is 55 Considered A Senior Citizen?
Years ago, someone who attained 55 years was considered to be old. There are still some situations and places where 55 years is considered elderly. For example, certain retailers offer senior discounts to people 55 years and over.
But generally, 55 years is no longer seen as old age. Nowadays, it is in the middle age category.
That’s probably because many countries, including the UK, have raised their retirement or pension ages to between 60 and 67 years. So someone who is 55 years old is still very much active in the workforce.
Many are still earning an income and are healthy enough to not require any health or mobility aids. At this age, there’s usually no need to see a geriatric specialist.
The bottom line is that, in many situations, a 55 year old is not considered to be a senior citizen.
That said, the range between 55 and 60 years is generally seen as the crossover from middle age to senior citizen.
Also keep in mind that we all age differently. So some 55 year olds may experience more age-related challenges than the average 55 year old person.
At What Age Can You Get A Bus Pass for Free Travel?
Senior citizens are eligible for various travel concessions that get them either free or discounted travel by rail or bus.
The most common is an older person’s bus pass, which you can apply for once you reach the minimum state pension age.
An older person’s bus pass lets you travel for free on local buses. You can apply for an older person’s bus pass from your local council. Contact them or visit the official website to learn the eligibility requirements.
Here are other transport benefits for senior citizens in the UK.
- Senior citizens over the age of 60 are eligible for a Senior Railcard, which gives them discounted travel on trains. You can apply for a Senior Railcard online or buy it at the railway station.
- London Freedom Pass gives senior citizens residing in London free travel within the city on various modes of transport including bus, rail, trams and river services. It also includes free local bus rides within the UK. To be eligible, you have to be a London resident and be eligible for state pension.
- If you are not able to use public transport, see if there is a local community transport provider. They can help you move around through various means of transport such as a moped or bus.
- Also check if your local council offers any transport benefits or concessions for senior citizens.
Other Benefits For Senior Citizens
In addition to transport concessions, senior citizens are entitled to many other kinds of benefits.
You can get help with health costs, heating (e.g. winter fuel payment), and TV licence costs. You can also get a reduction in council tax, get financial help for urgent expenses, get help paying your energy bills and so on.
Age UK is one of the best resources to find out which benefits you are eligible for. You can also contact your local council to learn the various ways they help pensioners.
What Age Group Is Considered Geriatric?
As with senior citizen there isn’t an official definition of which age group is considered geriatric. It varies depending on the context and situation.
But generally, geriatric starts at the same age range as senior citizen — 60 to 65 years.
The main difference between senior citizen or elderly and geriatric is that geriatric refers to medical care of older persons. The term is mostly used in connection with health care.
Depending on someone’s health condition, they may need to start seeing a geriatric specialist once they get to a certain age. This can be as early as 55 years for some people or 60-65 years for others.
Discuss with your primary care physician when it is necessary for you to see a doctor who specialises in geriatric care.