Age 65! What are your thoughts when you hear it? Let’s start with past messages. Old, over the hill, retirement, social security, and Medicare for Americans are a few common ones.
Well, that was then.
Baby Boomers and generations following them are changing the tune. How do I know? I’m now a 65-year-old woman, grateful and celebrating the fact I’m not only alive, but continue to thrive.
Let’s examine the reason 65 was considered a pivotal marker.
During the 20th century, when that age became assigned for receiving retirement benefits, the proverbial thought was people would die before reaching their mid-60s.
In the 1930s, the average life expectancy for men was age 58 and women 62.
Those numbers have changed.
According to Healthline.com, men live an average of 76 years with women averaging 81.
Wow! Life expectancy swelled. What accounts for it?
Well, I believe healthier lifestyle, including a reduction in destructive habits and an increase in exercise.
Also, as a Boomer I embrace this. We’re vain and want a youthful appearance, enjoying life like it’s 1999. Yes, we coined the 60-is-the new-40 logo. It became so popular that a few years ago, an article in the Wall Street Journal discussed this phenomenon.
Other factors which shouldn’t be dismissed are the advancements in medical and technological innovation, catapulted during the Boomer era.
We are living longer, but what does that mean? Choice, where some will choose to retire because they’ve the means. Others can’t afford to halt employment. Not for financial need alone, but mental, emotional and social health drive individuals to continue their participation in the work pool.
What about other ventures past 65? I’ve written in the past about so many people who keep working well beyond the appointed retirement age. Clint Eastwood, a nonagenarian, hasn’t seemed to stop his professional activities. The Richest.com states his worth as $375 million, so we know money is not a need, nor is the lack of abundance of children and grandchildren.
What drives people like Mr. Eastwood, an actor, director, songwriter, among his many gifts? Purpose and meaning, I’d venture to say.
How about others who discovered their creative gifts past 50, 60, 70, 80?
Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes, didn’t publish his debut memoir until he was 60 years old.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, known for her Little House series, published her first book at age 65, beginning a successful run as a children’s book author. Her stories became the inspiration for the television series Little House on the Prairie.
Ever hear of A Dangerous Weakness? The author, Lorna Page, became the oldest debut novelist ever recorded. At age 93, she published her book, using the money to purchase a bigger house for herself and some of her friends. What a treat for her pals with her successful creative endeavors contributing to her generosity.
Not everyone writes, but what achievements by others have occurred during the later years?
Arkenea.com reports that Jim Butenschoen left the IT industry at age 65 to start a hair-design academy.
Although she started at age 56, Ernestine Shepherd became the oldest bodybuilder at 78.
Michael Grottola began his consulting firm at 65, and Radha Daga founded a food company at age 73.
Laura Gable invented a new bra strap at age 70.
These individuals are examples of those undeterred by age.
I’m 65 and embrace these role models. As an author and long-time licensed psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, I don’t plan on halting soon. My profession offers a chance to work through the adult life cycle. There’s no better role model than Edith Eva Eger, a holocaust survivor, who wrote the book The Choice. She continues to practice as a psychologist at age 95.
Dr. Eger’s title is most fitting. Choice. Do you have an idea that hasn’t taken root? If so, what’s holding you back from watering the seeds?
Never forget the wise words of two luminaries:
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” —Napoleon Hill
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
How old are you? What have you accomplished past 65? What are you looking forward to accomplishing still?