How 90 Became the New 60

Have you noticed a lot of people turning 90 lately?

OK, maybe not a lot. But President Biden, 80, is saying he plans to run for re-election in 2024. His fans are going to be super-aware of anything that suggests he isn’t all that old.

I was thinking about this when I got invited to a 90th-birthday party recently — shortly after I went to a lunch a friend threw to celebrate her 95th. Kinda wondered if I was looking at a new trend.

Yeah, the really-truly-older cadre is zooming — thanks, boomers! The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2060, the number of people 85-plus will have tripled compared with 2017 and the country will have half a million centenarians.

Today we’re not going to discuss the social-support angle; obviously, many of these folks will need a lot of care. Or the fact that while the old are getting older, overall life expectancy in America has actually been dropping, thanks to guns, drugs and Covid.

Now we’re just going to focus on what all these post-90s mean to the way we view the world. Is Biden being 80-plus a big deal when Gloria Steinem just had a party to celebrate her 89th?

“Ninety is the new 60,” declared Muriel Fox, one of the founders of the modern women’s movement. “I’ve got several great friends in their 100s.” Fox recently invited some pals to her turning-95 luncheon, and I’m really liking the idea that being a feminist pioneer can add decades to your life span.

Steinem, who’s off celebrating 89 with a tour of Zambia, is feeling mellow, too. “I’m very conscious that I’m already past the average life expectancy,” she told me via email. “Yet also past many worries about job, family, saving for the future — this is the future!”

Of course, not everybody’s so enthusiastic about hitting markers that make our president look youthful. “It’s something I don’t think about,” said the composer John Kander, who, at 96, is currently busy publicizing “New York, New York,” his new Broadway musical.

The people who really need to get their heads around the age thing are younger. It’s clearly dumb to treat the … older as a doddering population of great-great-grandparents. People will just start wondering whether you’re the one who’s out of it.

For instance, the other day the Republican speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, pressed his demands for a negotiation with Biden on the budget

Back to top button