Perhaps you’ve noticed the average age of entry into your Life Plan Community is creeping upwards. Or, like me, you watch the Today Show and notice that the list of Smucker’s birthdays of those over 100 years old has grown to a lengthy segment. In case you haven’t noticed, there is an overall trend that Americans are living longer.
So think about it. In the 1800’s, life expectancy was a mere 38 years old; yet in 1950, life expectancy increased to 68 years old. With advances in diagnoses and treatment of illness and disease, current average life expectancy is 76.5 for males and 81.2 for females (www.verwell.com). We are obviously extending our life expectancy so does that change the definition of age or what is considered old?
IT DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ASK
So I’ve heard that “50 is the new 30”. If that’s true, maybe we need to rethink or redefine the term “old.” Many people do not like to be considered old because there appears to be a connotation associated with that term that denotes images of declining health, impaired cognitive skills, and an overall frailty or failure. As mentioned in last month’s blog, that is an injustice to the diverse number of people who are currently aging in America, many who remain healthy and active well into their eighties.
But, depending on whom you ask, here’s what you might hear from differing groups.
See chart in larger display here.
NEW DEFINITIONS FOR OLD AGE
Another interesting fact:One-third of those between 65 and 74 said they felt 10 to 19 years younger, and one-sixth of people 75 and older said they felt 20 years younger.( https://well.blogs.nytimes.com).
The point is – it is difficult to pin down when old age actually begins in today’s world. People are working and staying engaged longer. Many folks retain stamina and health, both cognitively and physically, well into their eighth decade. Therefore, rather than looking at a numerical number, perhaps we need to consider functional ability.
If a person of advanced chronological years remains involved, physically independent, and intellectually and cognitively connected, they do not fall into the traditional category of old people. With all the aforementioned in mind (and in recognition of the Thanksgiving holiday), Retirement DYNAMICS’ November blogs will concentrate on being grateful for older Americans in the twenty-first century. Stay tuned.
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