I actually know someone who is projected to live to be 120, my grandson. Zane just celebrated his first birthday and has 119 years to go, at least according to the morbidity and mortality tables in his pediatrician's office. That means that when Zane is 60, he'll only be half way through his life. He'll be middle aged.
His longevity got me to thinking that age and aging is impacted not so much by the passing of time but by the "time" we're in. In point of fact when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed social security into law in 1935 the retirement age was 65 but life expectancy at birth was 58 for men and 62 for women. These numbers were a result of the high infant mortality rates. Rates that have significantly improved over the last 80 years.
The good news is we're living healthier and longer lives. Living longer means we have more time, more time to grow up, have families, find a career or two or three, and more time in the work force. The bad news is that living longer results in a disruption of our predisposed ideas of when things should happen like marriage, work and family. A good example is my 40-something friend who recently got married and is now pregnant with her first child. I see her story not as an anomaly, but as an indicator of changing behaviors and new proclivities.
When I look at the state of our economy and my current job hunting experience, it's obvious that never before has the U.S. had so many able-bodied, educated people looking for work. No wonder the unemployment rate is so high. There are more people, young and old, seeking jobs than ever before.
Living longer is significant because it isn't cyclical, it's here to stay. We need to assimilate this fact into our behaviors as they impact our living patterns, our adoption and use of new methodologies and our perceptions of what constitutes old. Frankly if I can create for myself a life that serves a greater good and is vibrant with self-discovery, I'd like to live to be 120. Wouldn't you?