Recently I have been feeling slightly long in the tooth. It was the death of Mrs. Thatcher that did it. Watching the street parties on TV, I couldn’t help but notice how very young the revelers were: most of those idiots had not been born when she stepped down from office. And yet I remembered her resignation as if it were yesterday. Suddenly I realized that I was of a different era, that I was now in the same position as those bores who were always banging on about Woodstock when I was a teenager.
And if Mrs. Thatcher’s resignation is increasingly “ancient history,” then that means some of my other memories must be positively Jurassic. Here, the pop culture index is most telling. 1960s rockers like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have always seemed “old” to me, but now even the members of rubbish New Romantic bands from the 1980s are closing in on their pensions. Simon Le Bon will turn 55 later this month, for example. His song “The Reflex” is older now than Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” was in 1984, the year Duran Duran released that terrible single.
There is nothing unique in this sudden anxiety about aging, of course. Indeed, it is very banal – and what’s more: I knew it was coming. Regardless, awareness of the steady piling up of the years stirs new concerns – about my health, my strength – how long can I keep going before I become decrepit? I have health insurance, but in the United States, co-pays can still bankrupt you. Will “Obamacare,” which was launched this week only for many of the online health insurance exchanges to promptly crash, improve the situation? I have no idea.
And I’m not the only one who’s getting on a bit. Apparently the entire global population is aging. This week I read the Global Age Watch Index 2013 report and discovered that by 2050, people aged 60 and over will outnumber those under 15 for the first time in history. There will be 10 times as many old codgers as there were in 1950.
Now this is mainly a cause for celebration: it is good that so many of us will outlive our ancestors who for millennia struggled to make it out of their childhoods. But how will societies pay for all these pensioners as the youthful tax base dwindles? Old folk will be required to keep working much longer than before, and the aisles of Wal-Mart and Home Depot will surely fill up with helpful gray-hairs. We should all get some retail experience if we are not to…
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