70 Is the New 30

Bumming on the Baby Boomers never gets old. Apparently, neither do Baby Boomers. The NY Times sucks up to the last people on Earth who respect the Old Grey Lady:

Am I ‘Old’?

https://www.nytimes com/2018/12/13/well/mind/age-aging-old-young-psychology.html

By Steven Petrow, 13 Dcember 2018

A few years ago at a college reunion, I listened transfixed as the silver-haired philanthropist David Rubenstein urged us “to accelerate” as we entered the last chapters of our lives. Pick up the pace? So many of my contemporaries were stopping — if not stooping — to smell the roses.

With his admonition in mind, I recently spoke with Mr. Rubenstein, now 69, and asked him if he considers himself old. “Sixty-nine seems like a teenager to me,” he replied. Coincidentally, just a few days earlier, a 68-year-old poet I know, in between surgeries to help her mend after a fall, told me point blank, “I am an old lady now.”

What makes one sexagenarian identify as old when another doesn’t? And what is “old,” anyway?

Having turned 61, this is a question very much on my mind — and likely to be on the minds of the 70 million baby boomers who are 50-plus (yes, even the tail end of the boom is now “middle-aged” or “old”). Dinner conversations are now hyper-focused on how to stay young or at least delay old.

If you’re wrinkled and spend more on doctors than food, then you’re old.

Certainly the definition of “old” is changing, as life spans have grown longer. “Someone who is 60 years old today is middle-aged,” said Sergei Scherbov, the lead researcher of a multiyear study on aging. When does old begin? I asked.

Dr. Scherbov says for Americans, it’s roughly 70 to 71 for men and 73 to 74 for women, though, as he has written, “your true age is not just the number of years you have lived.”

Tell it to the Social Security Administration. Why are old farts not looking to the government for answers to these essential questions? They thought gov’t was the solution to everything else.

“The main idea of the project,” he told me, “is that an old age threshold should not be fixed but depend on the characteristics of people.” Factors such as life expectancy, personal health, cognitive function and disability rates all play a role, he said, and today’s 65-year-old is more like a 55-year-old from 45 years ago.

We’ve heard that reasoning before… somewhere…

As with beauty, the meaning of “old” also depends on the person you ask. Millennials, now in their 20s and 30s, say that old starts at 59, according to a 2017 study by U.S. Trust. Gen Xers, now in their 40s — and no doubt with a new appreciation for just how close they are to entering their 50s — say 65 is the onset of old. Boomers and the Greatest Generation pegged 73 as the beginning of old. Clearly, much depends on the perspective of who’s being asking to define “old.”

To that very point, I was curious to see how my friends who are 50-plus defined old — and asked them on Facebook. Among the dozens of responses, two made me smile: “Old is my current age + 4.” And this: “Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Never today.” Perhaps the one most difficult to hear: “When you get called “ma’am instead of “miss.” (That will never happen to me, although I’m constantly called “sir” these days.)

Other friends pointed to various physical milestones as the visible line in the sand. A colleague posted: “When you can’t jog a 15-minute mile.” Another friend said, “When I have to stop playing tennis.” Others ominously noted cognitive benchmarks: “When you stop being interested in new information and experiences.” Many focused on “memory issues” as defining the onset of old.

The bottom line: “old” is subjective, a moving target.

We’ve heard this reasoning before, too. Nihilism? Existentialism? Hmm.

That’s why David Rubenstein, 69, the board chairman of both the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution and co-founder and co-executive chairman of the Carlyle Group, can claim he’s not old, while my poet friend, a year younger than he is, refers to herself as old.

That’s why Judge Ginsburg “isn’t too old” to serve on the Supreme Court.

“Negative ageist attitudes toward older people are widespread,” a 2015 analysis by the World Health Organization confirmed in a survey. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents, 83,000 people of all ages in 57 countries, did not respect older people, with the lowest levels of respect reported in high-income countries like the United States. Even more damning: These views adversely “affect older people’s physical and mental health.”

They wouldn’t be Boomers if they were self-aware. “We ruined Western Civilization for fun and cash… why don’t you useless, worthless, easily replaceable kids respect us?”

The good news is that those views can be altered. “Like sexism and racism, changing social norms is possible,” wrote John Beard, WHO’s director of aging and life course. “It is time to stop defining people by their age.”

Hear, hear!

Which brings up this post’s point. Let me re-quote the WHO director of aging… can’t even believe that office exists… “Like sexism and racism, changing social norms is possible”. Jesus is dead but Social Justice will save us!

Unbelievable. Well, no, the generation that abandoned Christ made no preparation for the eternal souls they don’t believe they have. That’s consistent. But by worldly standards, they won. Yes? They got everything they wanted in the world, less one Orange Man. There is virtually nothing left for them to consume.

And yet, they’re sufficiently upset about dying to comically defy the inevitable. Why not? Did they lack any good thing except “more”? Do they believe death is anything but quiet, painless oblivion in which nothing matters?

Why do they care that they aren’t respected? Is there something more to life than the power and wealth they eagerly consumed? If so, they when aren’t they belatedly embracing it now?

The fool said” there is no God” and now at the end of his misspent life, he’s terrified by a thought he won’t allow yet must deny. Ah, sweet schadenfreude.

Am I old yet? I say “no,” emphatically. I have every intention of staying active and engaged at least into my 70s, 80s and I hope longer. But my good intentions could be derailed. I have cardiovascular disease and suffer from depression, and cancer runs like a river through my family. My “go get ’em” attitude could change with a single CT scan, car crash or loosened plaque in my arteries. Which means I may always be only a step or two away from crossing the threshold to old. All the more reason to pick up the pace now.

He’s not ready to die. That is a colossal mistake, not being ready for the most predictable event of one’s life. Like a whore in her twenties, he’s spending life as hard and fast and fun as he can in defiance of inevitable reality. Good thing he knows God isn’t real and will never call him to account!

Seems that God tolerates being mocked better than Death does.


One thought on “70 Is the New 30

  1. The death of the Baby Boomers is going to involve the most whining that has ever been heard in human history. They don’t seem to be aging well either. The WWII generation took a “grin and bear it” stance towards aging. The Boomers are mostly eating their way through their golden years. Many of them don’t show interest in grandchildren either.


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