AM hosts debate how old is 'old' after backlash over describing 65yo as 'elderly'

It's an age-old question without an answer: just how old is 'old'?   

Speaking on AM on Friday morning, hosts Laura Tupou and Michael O'Keeffe discussed what constitutes 'elderly' - and the differences between 'elderly' and 'old' - after a reporter copped heat in the newsroom for describing a 65-year-old man as such.  

"A lot of people are upset about this, saying 65 is way too young to be called elderly," Tupou said to the camera. "There's no way you're 'elderly' at 65 - but what do you think?"  

"What is 'elderly'?" O'Keeffe pointed out, to which Tupou responded: "I personally think [65] is too young, but what is 'the age'?"  

"Is 65 'old'? There's a difference, right, between old and elderly?" O'Keeffe continued. "I think 65 is old, but not elderly."  

"Elderly seems to conjure 'frail', a person who is quite a lot older," newsreader Isobel Ewing weighed in. "If anyone called my dad, who's 65, elderly, there would be trouble."  

The co-hosts then looked at the ages of the leaders of New Zealand's most prominent political parties, the oldest of whom is Winston Peters at 78, followed by Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer at 57, and National's Chris Luxon at 53. The youngest is ACT's David Seymour at 40. Meanwhile, in the US, President Joe Biden is 81 next month.

Later in the show, the hosts read out feedback sent in by viewers, one of whom said he continues to actively teach martial arts at the age of 68.  

"Age and experience just makes us better," he added.  

Maureen also weighed in with her two cents, telling AM: "Elderly is not age. Ageing is a process."  

James, 43, added: "I think 65 is old - I consider anyone aged 75-80 as elderly though."  

Merriam-Webster defines elderly as "rather old", or being past middle-age, while a 2014 study published on the US National Library of Medicine database claims people aged 65 or more are often referred to as 'elderly'. However, the study notes that the ageing process is "not uniform across the population due to differences in genetics, lifestyle, and overall health".  

Another study published in the database also categorised the 'elderly' as persons aged 65 and older, however, this research was released in 1990.  

Meanwhile, defines elderly as an "advanced age" or "relating to persons in later life", also referring to "senior citizens".  

At the end of the day, many people will say you're only as old as you feel: in that case, while I'm biologically 26, I will be identifying as a 65-year-old from this day forward. My back hurts.   

Watch the video above.