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Successful Aging: There are so many ways to celebrate being 60

Q. I am about to turn 60 years old and want this birthday to feel special. I am a baby boomer and refuse to think of myself as “old.” What can I do to celebrate this time of life so it’s memorable and positive? Many thanks. N.P.

A. Dear N.P. Kudos to you on your 60th birthday. Never getting old is a mantra of the baby boom generation whose members are between 53 and 71 years. This generation is working longer, redefining retirement as a time of opportunity for volunteering and second careers. And they are not giving up on sex, according to Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

You were born in 1957 with other notables. These include Caroline Kennedy, former ambassador to Japan, author and attorney; singer Gloria Estefan; news anchor and talk show host Katie Couric; track and field athlete Evelyn Ashford and Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California.

Several notable men also celebrate your birthday such as talk show host and news anchor Matt Lauer, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, comedian Steve Harvey and New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

In case your birthday is stimulating thoughts about retirement income, the Social Security Administration indicates that you will qualify for full benefits at age 66 and six months.

If you collect before that age your benefits will be reduced: at age 62, you will get 72.5% of the monthly benefit and at age 65 you will get 90% of the monthly benefit.

At age 70 you’ll get 128% of the monthly benefit. The message is, wait if you can, and of course, continue to celebrate.

I asked a number of people how they marked their 60th birthday. Here are some of their replies.

Sue had a big party at a club with 100 friends. Her big surprise was the appearance and performance of the USC marching band.

Betty wanted to be with her best longtime friends and went to dinner with six couples.

Bernice went to South Africa with her husband.

Brian went to his cousin’s in New York and found a surprise party for him. “Everyone hid in the house. When I entered, I was flabbergasted since everyone was there including my children from Colorado. We then went to the Hamptons and partied the whole d— weekend. What a lovely surprise,” he noted.

And then there was Irene who visited her sister for a barbecue dressed in a T-shirt and torn jeans. As she entered the backyard, nine couples were there including her ex-boyfriend who was the first love of her life. She remembers the heart-shaped cookies they served.

Carol loved the gift and surprise she received from her 62-year old sister. She was taken to a two-day concert at Dodger Stadium where the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, Earth, Wind and Fire, Fleetwood Mac, Journey and Steely Dan were playing.

For Jerry’s 60th, he took his adult children to Palm Springs and played golf. In his first stroke with the new golf club he received as a gift, he took the finish off the club. As this happened repeated, he took the club to the golf pro to reapply the finish. The golf pro finally said, “Here’s the paint; do it yourself.”

Refusing to think or feel like you’re old was the subject of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (October 3, 2017). Laura Carstensen, a Stanford University psychology professor and founding director of the Stanford Longevity Center, is quoted as saying, “There is almost no way of saying ‘feeling old’ to mean ‘feeling great.’” She continues that people feel old for two reasons: one is physical; the other is social. Feeling old physically can occur because of a receding hairline or receiving a prescription for heart medication for the first time. The “social old” comes from external cues. Examples are “You’re too old to wear that” or comparing ourselves to others who might be faster or skinnier. She found that if you feel young regardless of age, you live longer than if you feel old, sick and tired. In fact, “subjective age predicts how long you live,” according to Carstensen.

So N.P, happy birthday and celebrate your day and enjoy. Know that feeling old or young is subjective. With a choice, choose young which likely adds more years to celebrate your wonderful birthdays. Have a joyous 60th.

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