A few weeks ago, I turned 65. Of course I wasn’t alone. According to PEW Research. approximately 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the US. Another 1,000 boomers reach 65 daily in Canada. This will go on for the next 18 years. By 2050, 20% of the population will be over 65. That’s some 90 million in North America. On the downside, over 5,000 people over 65 die each day. But I was not one of them.
Turning 65 Is Not Cool
Leading up to my birthday, I was thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’ It’s like any other birthday, right? Not so! There’s something about being 65 that is quite different. It’s an emotional minefield; it’s a deeply emotional and somewhat disturbing experience.
There is a foreboding sense of urgency and of time running out. The march of time is ferocious, unrelenting and accelerating at a frightening rate. Each year seems to go by faster than the previous. It’s like racing to the edge of the cliff at the speed of a particle beam.
Best Wishes from Friends
I got calls from friends, well wishes from one aunt and my family members, all of which was greatly appreciated and heart-warming. Of course, I heard the usual clichés.
A former work colleague reminded me that “You don’t look like 65.” Well then, do I look like I’m 79 or 39? Which one is it?
A friend told me “It’s only a number right?” Well so is turning 6 or 20 or 42 – they’re just numbers also.
“Well, you made it to 65,” said someone else, as if it’s a big surprise. What? I should have been dead a long time ago maybe?
“That’s really old” said one of my grandkids – to some extent, he’s right. Grandchildren should not be so honest.
“At least you don’t have to work anymore.” Try telling that to all the seniors living at the poverty level in Canada and the US.
“You look good for 65.” What the f*%8# does that mean? How bad or old to I look? I don’t want your pity.
“You have a lot of years left.” Well no! Not really! Statistically speaking, I will die at 79. It’s about the “arithmetic” stupid as my boomer friend Bill Clinton would say. (He’s not really my friend, I just like to name-drop.) Let’s do the math – 65 is 82% of 79, leaving me with a mere 18% of my statistical life left. Those are not good numbers you will agree.
You gotta love statistics!
An average 65 year old male has a probable 17 years to live. The ‘healthy’ 65 year old is expected to last much longer. Another way of putting it is that 40% of individuals currently age 65 will live to be age 90. Or in couples currently age 65, there is a 63% chance that at least one spouse will live to age 90 – that’s usually the female, sorry guys. More good news! My probability of dying this year is only 1.67%. If you’re a female, it’s only 1.07%. Females win out again.
On a positive note, the many benefits of being 65 have already started for me. The other morning, I got a $2 senior discount on my brunch at a restaurant. That will go a long way towards offsetting the $10,000 reduction in my personal pension revenues, resulting from reaching the magic age of 65. Back to arithmetic – all I need is 5000 such $2 discounts annually to break even.
At times like this I’m drawn to the Peanuts comic strip character, Linus, who said, “There is no heavier burden than a great potential.” I think I have a lot of potential left, just a little less of it than before.
Due to the miracle of increased longevity, I plan to live to at least 100, still writing my Blog and working on my legacy. It needs a lot of work.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Activist and a blogger. He’s a member of 350.Org (Ottawa), Climate Reality Canada and Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa). Rolly has been published widely in both print and online publications. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.