Age is just a number

There is often a common theme in my articles and that is that age is just a number.  I was thinking about the article for this month and, once again, how I was going to convey this message.  I was thinking about what the indicators were that triggered someone to think someone is “old.”  The answer is somewhat in the theme of my articles.  I began to think about the number 65 as that appears to be the indicator of when someone is considered old.  Where did this number or indicator of old age start?  Who thought the magic number 65 was when somebody became old?  The answer is Otto von Bismark.  Hmmmm…

Otto von Bismark was a Chancellor in the 1800s in Germany.  He was developing a program to help the needy, appeal to the German working class, and combat the Socialist Party.  It was basically a Social Security program to help care for their aging population and the poor.  It appears that the Chancellor picked age 65 because, at that time, life expectancy was around 62 years of age so if someone did receive these benefits, it wouldn’t be for long.  This made the program affordable to operate as most individuals during that time did not get to utilize the program.  Also, the program was initially set up for those who needed assistance, not to everyone just because they turned 65 years of age.  

The United States followed Germany’s lead but not for another 55 years.  The Social Security program in America was not enacted until 1935.   As we all can see, the age 65 as an indicator of old age is no longer appropriate.  Remember that the age 65 was selected as most individuals did not live to65, as opposed to living to early 100s now, so it was more of a cost saving measure and a political move to make voters happy than to actually provide benefit to anyone.  Of course this program is completely different now, but the age indicator hasn’t changed drastically.  So, this is how 65 became the indicator of age.  Then, as is now, age is just a number.  

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