Thursday, July 23, 2009

Age is Different in Different Ages

I spotted this interesting photo on the old-photo blog Shorpy the other day and it has stayed in the back of my mind. I realized why today, during a meeting of the Delaware Population Consortium.

The picture was posted by a reader called Dana and it includes some of his or her forbears. It is from 1902 and includes four generations of a family. From the left, Great-grandmother at 65 years, Grandmother at 47 years, baby at six months, and Mom at age 19 years.

It has stayed in my mind because I am 47 years old this year. But That Grandmother looks more elderly than I do or than any of my contemporaries. and Great-grandma looks much older than folks I know who are now in their 70s and 80s.

At the meeting of the Delaware Population Consortium today, we were reviewing population projections for the state out to the year 2040, when we predict a much older population. We talked about how many people will be around 100 years old and speculated that at some point the age of retirement -- the age that we think of as "old" -- will have to go up.

Looking back at this picture, I realize that at different times in history, the stages of life -- youth, middle age, old age -- come at different ages.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had always marveled at the great historical figures who became famous at an age when I was still swilling beer and skipping class. Napoleon was a General, Nelson was a Post Captain. I think there were some warrior kings that hit there prime before age 20. I guess you had to act fast when the life expectancy was 45.

Matt

Anonymous said...

I meant "their" prime.

Matt

Ron Tipton said...

I'm 67 years old now and I don't think I look even close to the 65 year old great grandma. Wow. But then, maybe I do. Interesting to look back.

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