Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Are We Younger At 50 Than Our Parents Were?

A friend of mine is beginning his teaching career at age sixty. To me he doesn’t look sixty. That maybe because I am in my early fifties. At fifty, do we look old to our children? Do we look as old to them as our parents looked to us when we were young and they were fifty?

When I look at pictures of my parents or their parents (circa 1970) I note that they look old even when they were younger. Perhaps it is because we’ve had it easier growing up in this generation. We are more aware scientifically and anecdotally of how to stay healthy and look better. Many of us had babies later and changed careers later in life as well. My daughter was born when I was 36. That seems more acceptable, even normal, for my generation than for the generation of my parents.

There was a time when people were expected to retire at age 55. I will just be getting my second wind at fifty-five with an expectation that I will have to work to age seventy. Oddly enough this may work in my favor. I believe that my dad began his downhill slide in part because he retired early. He did not take on a hobby, other interests or add or deepen any personal friendships. He slowed down and hung out at his house. His body slowed and his mind followed. Had he kept working he may have fared far better.

I will have to ask my daughter if we are old to her. It is hard to measure since it is impossible to be objective in this regard. I know for certain is that at fifty-five Carrows allows me senior dinners. I don’t know when polyester begins to look like stylish comfortable clothing or at what age my wife will allow me black socks with my sandals.

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