Actively Aging

Actively Aging

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fact or Myth: Everyone Should Retire By 65

For more than a Century now, most people have expected to be retired by age 65. However, very few people know why 65 is considered the standard retirement age.

Actually, the idea of a set-age retirement comes from Germany in the 1880s and was prompted by fears that Marxist, Socialist, and Communist ideas would take over the country. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck proposed a first-of-its-kind social insurance program where the government would pay older workers after they left the work force.

At first, the age was set at 70. It was changed a few later to 65. At the time both ages were shrewd choices since life and work were hard and few people lived past age 75.

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt imported the idea to the United States. At that time, American life expectancy was drastically less than today, so government officials were rightly convinced that the system could be easily financially maintained.

However, today, with advances in health care, we are beginning to see more and more citizens living into their 90s and 100s, meaning those who retire at 55 or even 65 can be living on 4 or even 5 decades of savings, pensions, and/or Social Security benefits.

Obviously, this had led to a questioning of whether the current system as designed is sustainable. The answer is that is isn't unless changes are made. Also, new studies are showing that older people need meaning in their lives that some can best obtain through working longer, even if that work is on a flex-time, part-time, or volunteering basis.

According to released results, 88 percent of Americans ages 65 to 75 are healthy enough for modern work, which, for the most part, is far less strenuous than work in the past. In fact, those same studies show that 60 percent of people over age 85 don't suffer health problems that would prohibit them for continuing a reduced work load.

But with healthy longevity increasing, retirement is the only stage of life that has been elongated.

But you can expect this to be changing.

Experts on aging say that redesigning a better end-of-work-life scenario is one of the crucial challenges facing modern nations in the new few decades.

"Our old age will be different from our parents' and our  grandparents'. In fact, its' not going to be like anything American society has even seen before," says Laura Carstensen, the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. "With a little creativity, we could could craft work lives that are far more satisfying and less conflicted than the ones we have today."

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