My grandma was 65 when I was born. With her white hair in a bun, black lace-up shoes and an apron covering her cotton house dress, I thought she was ancient. Although she lived to be 94, her retirement was narrowly defined by a meager income and attitudes that kept her close to home.
Today's grandmas -- and grandpas -- are a different breed. Thanks to better educations and improved health care, at 65 we're nowhere near ready for the rocking chair. If you look at the latest statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, it's clear that we're a force to be reckoned with.
- Of the total 2010 Census population, 157 million people were female (50.8 percent) and 151.8 million were male (49.2 percent).
- Between 2000 and 2010, the population aged 45 to 64 years old grew 31.5 percent to 81.5 million. This boomer age group now makes up 26.4 percent of the total U.S. population. The 65 and older population also increased 15.1 percent to 40.3 million people, or 13 percent of the total population.
- Seven states had a median age of 40 or older: Maine (42.7), Vermont (41.5), West Virginia (41.3), New Hampshire (41.1), Florida (40.7), Pennsylvania (40.1) and Connecticut (40.0).
What does all this mean as we observe Memorial Day 2011, a day to remember what we have lost? For one thing, it means that no matter how young we feel, we won't live forever and now is the time to define the route we'll take as we approach our final decades. We're lucky to be able to do this kind of retirement planning. The generations before us rarely had that luxury, because they had neither the tools nor the time.
Meanwhile, have a relaxing and inspiring Memorial Day!