Is 75 the New 65? There May Be No Choice

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Since I’m self-employed and home-based, I generally choose to work out at the gym around mid-morning. It just works best with my somewhat unorthodox work schedule. But something I’ve been noticing when I go on weekdays is the pronounced number of people over 60 – and more than a few over 70 – working out. It got me to pondering the question: is 75 the new 65?

Is 75 the New 65? There May Be No Choice
Is 75 the New 65? There May Be No Choice

Now, I’m certainly not the first person to have that observation. I googled “is 75 the new 65” and it’s a common theme. We certainly hear that associated with other age ranges. Examples are is 40 the new 30?. And is 50 the new 40?

I think the answer is YES in all cases. But when it comes to the younger age groups, it seems to have more to do with denying age and simply not wanting to grow up. But when it comes to the older cohort, it might have to do with more practical matters. If it’s true, it’s changing society, and I dare say for the better.

There are several reasons why I think this is.

Longer Lifespans

Back in 1970, the average lifespan for a woman was 74.7, and 67.1 for men, for a blended average of 70.8. By 2017, the blended average lifespan in the US was 78.7. That’s an increase in the average lifespan by about eight years in less than 50 years.

Compared to the 1960s and 1970s, people reasonably expect to live at least a decade longer. Where back then it wasn’t unusual for people to die in their 60s and 70s – or even their 50s – today it seems most people live at least into their 70s, many into their 80s, and more than a few into their 90s.

Perception of age is relative. In 1970, a 60-year-old would’ve been considered old. In 2018, a 60-year-old is at worst late middle age.

It’s all a matter of perspective. If you expect to live to be 85 or 90 – and I think most people do – the 60s can still be considered the prime of life. Late prime perhaps, but prime nonetheless. It’s the result of having more time.

The Dispensing of Old Stereotypes

Maybe it was because I was a kid, but back in the 1970s, people in their 60s looked old. So did many in their 50s. I don’t think that was just my perception either.

A 50-year-old in 1975 would’ve been born in 1925. He would’ve experienced both the Great Depression and World War II. He may have even served in combat in World War II. Most likely, he’d have been a factory worker.

With that combination, he would’ve looked older than a person who was born after World War II, who never experienced combat or a depression, and did office work throughout life.

But I think it was more than that. Back then, people considered themselves old when they were over 50. Life seemed to be more settled, and so were they. Perhaps based on the experience of previous generations, they reach middle-age in their 30s, and began the descent into old age in their 50s.

The situation seems to be completely different today. It definitely seems as if people born after World War II consciously resist aging. This explains why 50 is the new 40, and 40 is the new 30.

I also think extended adolescence explains a lot of this – and that’s not entirely a healthy situation. It’s a phenomenon that seems to have begun in the 1960s (“Never trust anyone over 30”), but has accelerated in every decade since.

But while it appears to be a form of escapism for younger age groups, it seems more rational for people in their 60s and 70s.

Dramatic Changes in the Nature of Work

We just touched on the difference between someone who spends life working as a factory worker, versus someone who works in office. The factory worker would’ve done physical labor, in a work environment that may have been less than entirely comfortable (extremes of heat and cold). The job may even have been dangerous. At a minimum, it would’ve been physically taxing. It could’ve involved heavy lifting, a fast work pace, or standing for extended periods.

By contrast, today’s worker – who is much more likely to have a career in an office-based occupation – faces much less physical stress. Office environments are temperature controlled, involve sitting in often comfortable seats, doing work that isn’t physically challenging, and operating in a generally pleasant environment.

Where the factory worker’s job took a toll on the body, the office worker faces no similar physical stress.

It could be argued that factory work might have certain health benefits as a result of increased physical activity. But that may be more than offset by the stress on the body, that eventually causes her to wear out sooner.

The office worker, by contrast, generally arrives in old age with fewer physical deficiencies.

The Longer Life/Longer Retirement Connection

I think there’s an underestimated connection between work and quality of life in the later years.

I realize millions of people want nothing more than to kick back and retire to a life of blessed nothingness as soon as possible. 65 is the most common target, but more than 40% begin collecting Social Security at age 62.

What I’ve noticed is that the people who continue working past 62 or 65 seem to be both healthier and happier than those who retire. I don’t know if it’s because those who are healthier can continue working, and therefore do, or if work actually contributes to a better state of health.

But this much I do know… If you’re going to live to be 90, retiring at 62 is a very real potential financial disaster. Your savings will have to last for nearly 30 years (longer if you live well past 90). Given the uncertainties of the financial markets, and the ravages of inflation, that’s not likely for all but the very wealthy.

It seems logical that if you’re going to live longer, you’ll need to work longer. If you live to be 90, and you retire at 65, you’ll need your resources to survive for 25 years. But if you delay retirement until 75, you’ll only need to cover 15 years.

In a real way, we need to rethink the purpose of retirement. Is it to spare you the stresses of work in your last years? Or is the real purpose something very different? The early retirement movement is an indication that it now has little to do with old age.

And we can probably thank TV and the media for removing the connection between work and lifestyle, that was once a given.

Different Thinking About Aging

We’re all seeing more people over 65 working in all kinds of occupations. But equally obvious – that we may be missing as the deeper point – is the reality that some people are accomplishing great things very late in life.

That doesn’t square with the retire-at-all-costs mindset that dominates in many quarters.

It should also make us wonder if we and too many others are quitting on ourselves too soon.

Examples of good examples of people accomplishing great things late in life abound. Warren Buffett continues to be one of the most influential men in the investment community at age 87. Elizabeth II continues as the Queen of England at age 92. George Burns continued acting well into his 80s.

One group I’m particularly impressed with are preachers. There are a number of preachers maintaining active ministries well past 70. Examples include Joyce Meyer (75), David Jeremiah (77), and Charles Stanley (85). We could also add that Billy Graham continued preaching well into his 80s.

These preachers impress me for two reasons. The first is that standing up in front of a large group of people and delivering a sermon is taxing on a number of fronts. Most people are even mortally afraid to do such a thing. But these preachers soldier on, well past normal retirement age.

The second is that it demonstrates consistency with biblical faith. As a Bible believing Christian, you see this life as a bridge into eternity. When I see people doing the work of God very late in life, it’s a demonstration of that faith. The believer doesn’t get sidelined, but instead she continues to work in her God-given ministry until she’s physically no longer capable – which is often much longer than anyone thinks is possible. That’s one of the greatest witnesses any believer can make.

I think we can make similar choices in life. And as I’ve found out in my life, when you’re determined to do something that’s important to you, the ability and the resources present themselves. I consider it a God-thing, but you can describe it any way you choose.

Why 75 is the New 65 is a Healthy Development

This is of course completely anecdotal, but I’ve seen a lot of people retire early in life and deteriorate quickly. They retire at 62 or 65, then suffer with chronic conditions by age 70.

I believe a large part of this is expectation. People eventually become what they’ve been practicing to be.

I’ve seen other people who continue to move forward in life, and seem to defy age in the process. This may explain why they’re able to be active and productive well into their 70s and even 80s.

I get that this attitude isn’t universal, but we may also be moving toward an involuntary shift.

Longer lifespans are a reality. So is the need to survive financially for longer into old age than previous generations needed to. As well, people aren’t as physically worn out today by the work they do, and a more youthful attitude toward life has become the norm for millions of people.

If 75 is the new 65 – and we have every reason to believe that’s the case – we should embrace it. In general, people are more aware, more capable and more physically durable than in previous generations. Those are blessings to be celebrated.

Do you think this is a legitimate trend, or do you think it’s just something being embraced by a minority of well-heeled older folks?

( Photo by Peter Mooney )

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21 Responses to Is 75 the New 65? There May Be No Choice

  1. Hi Kevin. Someone that comes to mind relative to this post, among many, but someone a bit famous is the mother of Elon Musk, Maye Musk. At 70 years old, she is a model for Cover Girl, an educated nutritionist and dietitian. One would think that she’s had all the breaks with such a wealthy son, but this isn’t the case. She raised her three children pretty much on her own, working multiple jobs to support them. She did say that her children were all very gifted, and she saw this early on. But she established her own career, and she is an advocate for continuing to work as long as possible. She states she’ll continue to work as long as she can…and here’s someone who has three wildly successful children whom she could lean on if she chose to. There are many people out there like this, some famous, some not. And I agree wholeheartedly with your link about ability and resources presenting themselves to you once you show the determination to do something. One of my favorite sayings by Goethe…”The moment one definitely presents oneself, then providence moves, too.” There’s more to that saying, but that’s the jist of it. Many of these people are true inspirations and examples of what we all can accomplish should we choose to. Great post with many links….good reading. Thanks

  2. Thanks Bev. It’s true, there are examples all around us. My gym experience is what motivated this article. When I was a kid, people over 30 didn’t work out. But in the gym, I’m seeing men in their 60s who are seriously built, and even older people who are regulars. Plus when I walk the mall on bad weather days, I see scores of people in their 70s and 80s. I also notice that many of the influential people in the world are north of 60 and often 70. There seems to be a quiet revolution taking place, and I think it’s good. Who ever said your life should stop at 65? Most of us have too much to give to stop. And some people even hit their productive peaks after 65. You rob yourself, your family, your community and the world when you build your life around the premise of retiring to nothingness. I plan to keep going in all directions as long as I’m blessed to do so. Life is SO much more interesting when you do.

  3. What you say sounds real good, but those people you listed are wealthy and probably never had to raise children alone, go to food banks and dollar stores, live paycheck to paycheck or go without eating to feed a group of hungry children. I’m sure they never had their gas tanks run empty or go to pawn shops to get grocery money. The truth of the matter is by 62 the AVERAGE underpaid worker is plum worn out and is barely making it to work each day even if in good health. I’ll take my chances at collect my Social Security at 62, I’ve made it this far without going nuts or losing my home and I’m sure I’ll make it until 90 with no problem. What you say all sounds good but what about the worker who couldn’t go to the dentist because they had a child that needed braces or supplies to play a team sport just to seem normal with the other children. Savings….what is that, and 401k, how the heck can you take a dime out of your check when you have little shoes to buy for your children’s feet? Don’t compare the majority of American workers to people like Joyce Meyer and Warren Buffet. I guess if I conned up a good sermon on the power of the Holy Ghost I’d be sitting on a golden toilet like Joyce while milking her flock while she goes and gets her face uplifted. I admire Warren Buffet, he put in the work but I have no respect for these pimpin’ preachers spreading the word of God – which is free last I checked?! Older people are working out to keep that high blood pressure in check and so their bones will stop creaking. You must be rich because the rest of us are worn out sitting at these desks and being slaved until we fall over, they scoop us up and replace us with a younger, cheaper worker. 75 may be the new 65 for people with extra money who can afford organic food and nice long vacations but for the rest of us underpaid working stiffs 75 is still 75 and we’re just happy to still be alive and praying we can take one vacation every other year, get real….you must be rich LOL. It ain’t over and I feel great at 60 but there is no way I’ll keep working until 75, I don’t have the strength since I started working at 13 in the summer to buy my school clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter, I have a happy life raised 4 children alone and glad that part is over, but keep working until I’m 75, no way my nerves can’t take it, I’ve been an Executive Assistant for over 30 years. Don’t be too hard on me, if you’ve got some extra money you want to donate to a beautiful 60 year old lady, one dame that knows the ropes send it my way, until then I’ll keep on trucking and count the days until I’m 62! 🙂

  4. You write “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter”, but everything else you write suggests you very much are. For the record, I’m not rich, not by any stretch of the imagination. But just because life has been hard doesn’t mean I intend to quit. There are a lot of good people – who aren’t famous – who similarly won’t quit. Such people are to be admired. We can all make choices, and just because your life hasn’t played out the way you want, doesn’t mean you’re bound by what’s happened in the past. Life is an adventure, even for us common folks, and that’s the course I choose to take and recommend to others.

    You should also know that I’ve experienced much of what you have. We had to sell our house because my career was crashing. We went through years when we didn’t know how we’d get money for food, or a car repair, or a utility bill. We also went years without taking vacations – your desire to take a vacation every other year is a luxury we couln’t afford. We bought clothes at thrift stores, and struggled to pay the fees to keep our kids in a few after school activities. I spent years juggling an at-home career to be home taking care of my young kids, sacrificing income as I did. There were no nice, long vacations, and no organic food on our dinner table. Your generalizations do little more than attempt to marginalize a strategy you choose not to follow. We can all make excuses, but they never improve our circumstances. I’m asking you to re-read this article from that point of view.

    Also, of course I’m listing well-known people. Everyone knows who they are. If I listed the many people I know personally who live the way I describe in the article, no one reading would know who I’m talking about.

    But we move on, and put it behind us. That’s our choice. I’d also like to suggest that if your life has been that hard, you owe it to yourself to turn a new page in life, and make the best of the time you have left. If you haven’t been able to save money, and you’ll rely mainly on a reduced Social Security benefit taken at 62, you’re the exact person who needs to embrace this.

  5. LOL
    I can’t tell you how much of a laugh I got out of your response. This is awesome. I can’t agree with you more. I feel the same way.
    I happen to be a christian but can’t stomach the Joyce Meyer types. They take some poor slep’s last dime who is desperate for any type of answer then go home to their million dollar homes all built on the backs of desperate people.
    I’ve watched countless people who can’t pay their bills give to these people. My mother in law is one of them.
    Great response!!!!!

  6. I actually love Joyce Meyer Tim, and consider her one of my favorite inspirations. But I’ve never given her a dime. It’s always a person’s choice to give – no one is a victim in that regard. I also like people like Anthony Robbins, and have found his books to be a great inspiration. We need to find those inspirations if we can’t generate enthusiasm on our own. A good friend of mine, a top salesman, told me that we all need to keep ourselves motivated, that it doesn’t just happen. My office is plastered with motivational sayings from people great and small, as I always believe we have something to learn from nearly everyone. Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. I try to keep that in mind and keep my thinking regulated, especially since the world is awash in fear.

    It doesn’t make us lackeys, but just people who are looking to move forward. From my own experience, forward motion seems to be the key to everything else. I always loved the bumper sticker that says “Stop Global Whining” – perfect. Whining doesn’t do any good anyway.

  7. I understand. I admire guys like Andrew carniege who considered it a sin to die with millions in the bank. Yes, he made a fortune but he left his mark on society for ever!!!
    When it comes to people like Joyce Meyer, well she isn’t dead yet but at this point I lump her in with a used car salesman or politican.
    Sorry, I guess will always disagree with that one.
    I was involved many years ago with a ministry that was one of these name it claim it types. I know a couple of these guys personally that used to be on cbn. I won’t bother telling you who because you would know them. Most are greedy thief’s who could care less if some poor widow spends her last dime as long as it pads there bank account.
    I don’t want to argue. I’ll agree to disagree on that one.

  8. Speaking of Andrew Carnegie, we went to his gravesite at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York. Many of the who’s who among the Industrial Revolution financial empire class are buried there, including the Rockefellers and Astors, as well as Washington Irving. Most of the others had enormous monuments built. But Carnegie’s grave was marked by a modest Irish cross. You could miss it if you didn’t know where to find it. I love that kind of humility, even in death. BTW, we went looking for his grave because he’s an idol of my son.

  9. Another great article. My only reservation is the state of our collective physical health once we reach our 50s. I stopped working last year, convinced I was headed fast for breast cancer or a similar diagnosis. Years of high stress, overwork, lack of nutition and toxin exposure was closing in. I think this is the plight of most Americans and our medical industry does not have the remedies. Sorry to be so depressing.

  10. Hi Jeanne – That is depressing, but it’s a real problem in today’s culture. You know I’ve written extensively on the farce that is the healthcare situation in this country. To be really depressing, I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. There’s not much we can do about it, but that’s why I think even more we need to do what we can with the areas of our lives that we do have control over. You know, make the most we can with what we have to work with, within the limits that life imposes on us. BTW, I think you made a wise choice in choosing health over your career. I’m sure I’d be dead by now if I hadn’t left the mortgage business 10 years ago. It was involuntary, but a blessing in disguise. As it is I already have health conditions that I’m sure that business contributed to.

  11. I didn’t say my life didn’t play out the way I want it, I have a wonderful life but the fact that you would even mention these billionaires when initially I thought this blog was for the average stiffs to make improvements in their lives is bizarre at best. Guess what I am the norm…turn a new page I’m going to the beach next week, 75 is 75 for the average Joe, so you run this blog FOR the money and just tell people what they want to try to believe. You must have cut and paste your original message from some Christian website….no worries I’m unsubscribing, you’re just another pulpit pimp trying to run a game….why didn’t you keep it real and tell about you’re overcoming your hardships from the beginning? That’s the kind of stuff that motivates the 80% of American workers, not how we should run around and try to make ourselves believe we are 10 years younger than we really are. Maybe Joyce and Warren can run around and play young, they probably don’t even have to wipe their own behinds. Rethink you blog title…YIKES!

  12. I have no further response to that. One thing I’ve learned after 9 years of blogging is that there will always be some people who will find mortal offense at what you write. It’s an occupational hazard I suppose. For what it’s worth, I get a lot more comments and emails from people who tell me I’m doing it wrong because I’m not focusing the message on helping people to get rich. You can’t please everyone, and I’ve given up trying. I hope you find a blog that makes you happy.

  13. That’s cool about the grave. I’d like to see that someday. Speaking of health care. I was at a picnic yesterday and overheard a doctor tell his friend that he was trying to get another support staff person but his boss was saying no because his surgery numbers we’re too low to justify the cost. I thought to myself, that’s sick. It’s all about getting his surgery numbers up. Good god what a shame. All people are to him are cattle.

  14. I’ve read about that Tim. Now that most doctors are employed by medical groups and the like, it’s all about turning numbers. They have to see so many patients per hour. Like everything else, healthcare has been commodified. I can see why doctors and nurses are starting to leave the profession. Of course, that won’t bode well for the rest of us. We sometimes blame the doctors, but in a real way they’re victims in this system assault too. They’re higher up the chain, but pawns nonetheless.

  15. That’s why I like this blog. It attempts to wake people up out of the’re slumbers.
    If we as the people as the majority don’t wake up to these truths then we end up just another cog in the wheel of a corporate system.
    Staying healthy is the only way. I understand people getting sick. We don’t help ourselves at all the way we eat in this country.
    These people are smart to at least try and work out or stay active. It’s the only way.
    I do believe we in this country are the most naive people in the world. Most still believe in the system. Those who don’t do something totally opposite of what everybody else does.

  16. One of the things that really impresses me about the people over 60 and 70 who work out is that back in the 70s people over 30 didn’t work out. It just wasn’t what you did. Sure, there were the Pumping Iron gym rats, but they were mostly younger. Today, people are taking their health seriously and late in life at that. A lot of them certainly have health problems, but some of them look incredible. That’s inspiring, and something we can all do at least to some degree.

    I agree with you on food. I have a cousin who grew up in Greece, and naturally likes cheese (it’s a Greek staple). He’s lactose intolerant – or so he thought. He began eating imported cheese from Greece and Italy and had no negative reaction. Only American made cheese gave him problems. I know dozens of people who are lactose intolerant, and now suspect it’s because of the food production methods in the US. Like the ginned up doctor work, food production is juiced in a number of unholy ways that’s making it increasingly toxic. That’s why I really appreciate the “locally grown” movement in New England.

    Re: the system, Vox Day, a writer on WorldNet Daily (which I don’t actually read, but I like him), lives in Italy. He said the country is totally corrupt. But he said that Italians know their government is corrupt and work around it. Ditto for Mexico. He said the difference between Italians and Mexicans on one hand, and Americans and Brits on the other, is that Americans and Brits don’t think their systems are corrupt (even though they are), and simply go along as if everything is just fine and dandy. He may be right about that.

  17. That last paragraph says it all. Most real money is made outside the system in those countries. Here the 1 percent make their money and game the government to protect them. Which they happily do. Are system is even more of a lie than Italy or Mexico. At least those countries don’t hide it. You know what your dealing with and operate accordingly. Here everybody is still trying to work within the confines of the system that is rigged and stacked against you. Only they don’t believe it.
    Yes, are food system is complete poison.

    Yep, you will have health problems with age but we contribute to it and amke it worse how we live.

  18. That was the exact point Vox was making. We trust at our own peril, and in doing so enrich the top 1%. But I’m not of the mind to go off the grid. I’d rather try to work as best I can within the system as it is, maximizing what advantages I have, and minimizing the damage along the way. Things haven’t gotten so bad we need to drop out, at least not yet.

  19. No that’s not the answer. The’re are many structures, vehicles that are out there that are completely legal that can be taken advantage of. I will never break the law but I will work around it, legally.

  20. A couple of weeks ago my sixty plus wife and sixty plus self went on a grueling hike from Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake Colorado. I had looked up the 18 mile hike in advance and could only find references to it as a two day or three day backpacking trip, nobody apparently did it in one day. It covers thousands of feet of elevation change up and down both sides of 12,000 foot Flattop mountain with trails so rocky you have to pick out places to put your foot down. The two guys we hiked with were 72 and 68 and we had to push ourselves very hard to keep up with them in spite of the fact that we are good distance runners ourselves. We made it in under ten (hard) hours but got chided by our other hiking friends who are also seventy-ish because they did the same hike last year in under nine hours. I was fortunate to retire early with ample resources but I can’t argue with the gist of your good post!

  21. Thanks Steve. I think there are a percentage of people over 65 who are limited by health concerns, but the majority seem to be out and about doing things once thought reserved for much younger people. Your hike is an example.

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