Nautilus

Retiring Retirement

You don’t take any medications?”


“No.”

The doctor stared at me dolefully, then reframed the question.

“So, when you get up in the morning, what do you put in your mouth?” he asked with an air of exasperation, as if I was the one who wasn’t getting it.

“Oatmeal, usually, and tea with milk.”

“You don’t take any pills for high blood pressure? For your heart? Your bones?”

“Nope.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“Not even vitamins?”

He scanned my medical history, and the answer was there in black and white: a body mass index of 24, blood pressure a shade lower than the normal range, total cholesterol below 120, and no chronic disorders or ailments to speak of. There was just one outlier in this picture of good health: I recently turned 67. Which is why, when I saw a new doctor for my annual checkup, he had a hard time believing I wasn’t taking an arsenal of drugs simply to remain upright.

There is plenty of alarm about the unprecedented aging of humanity. Since 1950, the median age in developed countries has jumped from 28 to 40, and is expected to reach 44 by mid-century. The percentage of citizens age 65 and older is expanding accordingly, from less than 10 percent in 1950 in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan to a respective 20, 30, and 40 percent by 2050. The fear is that, as baby boomers like me march lockstep into “retirement age” (the first of us crested that hill in 2011), there will be fewer young workers to support us old folk, which will curb spending, strain the healthcare system, and drain Social Security and Medicare benefits.

“We’re going to see something we’ve never seen before—people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who want to continue working and remain connected.”

Yet it’s hard to reconcile this

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