WOW! It’s hard to believe and even quite scary - leading edge Baby Boomers are turning 70 this year.
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, born a second after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946, in Philadelphia, was the first of this generation to turn 70, with approximately 551,000 doing the same every day the rest of this year.
Admittedly, 70 is not only the beginning of a new decade for those of us born in 1946; it’s a huge milestone. We are now entering our eighth decade of life.
Some of us thought we’d never make it this far, particularly in the days of our rebellious youth, and about a third of the 3.4 million babies born in the United States that year didn’t make it to this juncture. But most of the rest of 2.1 or so million born in 1946 never had a doubt we would see this. In fact, we couldn’t see not being around for the big celebration. And it will be the same in 10 years no doubt.
Turning 70 is a lot different than turning 60. By comparison, the 60s seem young - many years left before reaching centenarian status. But at 70, that gap is closing - at best, about a third of our lives left.
That makes it a great time for soul-searching, reflection and introspection. And perhaps some old-fashioned conversations with friends, family and other close ties. What will we do with ourselves? What have we done so far? Have we realized our dreams? What kind of legacy are we leaving?
Will we keep working at whatever it is we love doing until our dying days? Or will we gather our resources and start checking off our travel bucket list of places we’re committed to seeing in this lifetime? Or maybe we’ll relocate to be closer to our grown children, grandchildren, old friends and siblings.
A large percentage of us will likely look around and find out where we can be of service in our communities - we may even get trained in disaster preparedness with the Red Cross or start training for marathons supporting our favorite causes. Whatever we do, we are not about to give up the fight for a good life.
Experts say that if we’ve made it this far, odds are good, we’ll be around at least another 15 or so years. And with all the medical advances and knowledge explosion about improving the quality of life, we can expect those 15 more years to be relatively free of disease. Many of us are banking on doubling that number - actually making it to 100 - or more.
When you look at some of the more famous Boomers turning 70 in 2016, you can’t help but think: “Well why not me?”
For example, actress Diane Keaton turned 70 on Jan. 5 and is still landing starring roles in movies every year. AARP The Magazine interviewed her for its December/January issue. She’s healthy, fit and has an awesome attitude about life - she’s happy with who she is, where she’s been and where she’s going.
Other celebrity Boomers turning 70 this year with a wide-open future ahead of them include:
The January-February issue of the AARP Bulletin noted some significant changes from when we were born 70 years ago and today. We started life when the United States was 90 percent white; today it’s 76 percent white, 9 percent black, 9 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian and 2 percent other. Women and minorities have seen great changes in their roles in society in those 70 years with the civil rights and women’s movements.
The percentage of women in the workforce has risen from 31 percent in 1946 to 57 percent today. The traditional family model has shifted from a stay-at-home mom, working dad and 3.5 children to include households headed by one parent, a guardian, a grandparent or a same sex couple.
The median family income in the United States adjusted for inflation has risen from $27,000 in 1946 to $62,000 today.
AARP Bulletin also pointed out that of the Boomers turning 70 this year, 62 percent of us were married once, 23 percent twice and 9 percent three or more times. Six percent were never married.
Researchers studying healthy aging and other issues of older adults say that by far staying active is key to continuing to enjoy a great life. And it’s not telling how life will look at our next big milestone. We certainly don’t want to miss that!