In a couple of days, I'll be celebrating my 55th birthday. In 36 years I've gone from "I Can't Drive 55" to "I Can't BE 55!" I can't possibly be considered a "senior citizen" -- can I? The earliest an American can receive any social security benefits is age 62, and people don't qualify for Medicare until age 65. Since I'm still several years away from those milestones, I can't honestly be considered a senior citizen. Right?
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) considers a "senior" to be age 50 and older. The American Seniors Association and the Association of Mature American Citizens also consider the 50-year mark as becoming a senior.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of the U.S. population is 38. That means that half of Americans are below that age and half are above. So, once you reach 39 years old, you're statistically on the "senior" side of the population. I'm guessing that makes you feel a little bit older.
Generally, being a senior citizen typically means that a person is at the age in which they retire from work. They are transitioned from a working adult to a retiree. Culturally, a senior citizen is someone who is slowing down in their life. They have accomplished raising a family, having a career, or any other monumental feat in their adult life. Economically, a senior often times requires financial support either in the form of retirement funds or savings, or with the support of a caregiver. Since a senior citizen is typically no longer in the work force, they need to have some account (or someone) that can help to cover their expenses. As a result, many seniors are often dependent on others for their welfare. Medically, a senior citizen is more likely to have age-related health problems. Loss of mobility, hearing and vision are the most common health complaints. However, elderly individuals can also be more likely to suffer chronic pain and illnesses, which require aid and support from outside sources.
I can tell you this... I am NOT a senior citizen! I'm a 55-year-old healthy working man who is enjoying a full life with my beautiful wife, and cherishing time with two children still at home (ages 12 and 15). Sure, I can walk into some fast food restaurants and movie theaters and get a "senior discount" now that I've reached 55 years of age, but I would feel very awkward doing so.
I was curious which celebrities are the same age that I am, and here are some that I learned are also 55 years old: Courteney Cox, Lori Loughlin, Sandra Bullock, Lenny Kravitz, Marisa Tomei, Russell Crowe, Sarah Jessica Parker, Courtney Love, Diane Lane, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, David Spade, Wendy Williams, Piers Morgan, Trisha Yearwood, Melissa Gilbert, Hoda Kotb, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Terri Irwin, Molly Shannon, Candice Bergen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Faith Ford.
Yes, I was born back in 1965 and this coming weekend I qualify for 55 candles on my birthday cake. There's no doubt that I have more years behind me than I have in front of me, but I can tell you that I won't spend the remaining years ahead pondering how the word "senior" applies to me. There's way too much living to do!