Are old people getting younger in your country?

I’ve just noticed that I’ve been underestimating people’s ages quite a lot, and it has led me to some wrong assumptions.

Lately I’ve been seeing people who look to me as if they’re in late middle age working in rather undemanding, very low-pay jobs. Since it’s very unusual in my part of the US to see people at that age working in entry-level jobs, when you notice this situation, you can usually guess that the person has had some tragedy in his life, sometimes a corporate layoff or something something else the person couldn’t help, but often some personal failing, such as alcoholism.

Well, lately I’ve been finding out that the “middle-aged” people I’ve been seeing in these jobs are actually RETIRED! They had better jobs, but now they work these low-skill, low-pay jobs just to keep busy and be around people. They’re not actually middle aged, but real senior citizens.

The reason I was confused is that none of these people look old. One man works as a receptionist at a sports club, and I thought he was in his 50s at the oldest, because he has a lot of energy, and on some days he plays basketball with much younger men. He is really retired, and in his late 60s, but I didn’t guess that. When I was a kid, we never saw men in their late 60s playing basketball or doing any kind of sport, and we especially could not have imagined them keeping up with men in their 20s and 30s in very strenuous basketball games!

My only conclusion is that older people are getting younger in my country. When I watch old TV shows from the 1950s, some of the actors in their 30s look to me as if they’re in their 50s. People in North America frequently say now that “40 is the new 30” or “50 is the new 40”. This is true in many aspects of our lives.