When is someone "old"? Your birth date could affect your perspective.

That's what pollsters observed when they phoned 1,000 people in June. They asked participants a few questions: How old is "old," how old are you, and how old do you wish you were.

The answers varied by age. Peers of Britney Spears saw things one way; those with many more candles on their birthday cake saw them another.

The survey was done by Zogby International for the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

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Who Are You Calling Old?

When someone is 71-80 years old, they're "old." That's what nearly a third of participants decided.

Those under age 30 weren't quite as generous. A third of them used the "old" label for those aged 61-70.

Time may change their minds about that, judging by the oldest participants, who were at least 65. Nearly 60 percent of them said "old" meant being 71-90 years old.

Men were more likely than women to call someone under 60 "old." People in their 20s were most likely to be happy with their current age. Just about no one yearned to be in their 90s.

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Aging Nation

America's population is aging. The oldest baby boomers are on the cusp of "senior" status.

Consider these U.S. Census Bureau numbers:

—People aged 65 and older in 2004: 36.3 million (12 percent of the U.S.)

—Projected number of people age 65 and older in 2050: 86.7 million (21 percent of the U.S.)

Are gathering years bringing a new definition of "old"? Maybe, but the poll doesn't note "old" surveys on the topic.

What about the young at heart, or those who are "old" before their time? The poll just looked at the cold, hard numbers — not attitude, health, or spirit.

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By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

SOURCES: MetLife Mature Market Institute: "How Old is Old?" U.S. Census Bureau: "Facts for Features: Older Americans Month Celebrated in May."