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What does 65+ sound like? 

My friend Michael recently turned 70. Amid the myriad of Facebook birthday greetings was this question from a (probably much younger) friend: ‘How does it feel to turn 70?’ Michael’s reply: ‘Sounds worse than it is.’

I’ve been friends with Michael for 35 years when we were both young professionals and neighbors in the manic throes of managing career, childrearing (at the time he was a joint custody single father) and massive mortgages. He is now an accomplished golfer, multi-published author, a practicing high profile lawyer, happy husband, and grandfather to an adorable brood.  

Trish Wheaton

Michael is not a 70+ anomaly. He, like me and so many of my 70+ friends, is living his — apologies for this overworked but appropriate phrase — ‘best life’. 

Why does 70 sound worse than it is? 

One reason may be that until very recently the older demographic didn’t register a ‘sound’ in media. 65+ was an unheard clump of humanity on an end-of-life glide path. Monolithic. Undifferentiated. Unseen.

Without positive representation of what life can be like in our ‘Primetime’ as Jane Fonda called the later decades of life in her 2011 book of the same name, we lack inspiration to its possibilities. Representation is important.


Having sworn off The Bachelor franchise years ago, this fall I, along with between 6-7 million weekly viewers, mainlined episodes of The Golden Bachelor. While much of the series was same old, same old with hearing aids Bachelor drama, Episode 7, The Women Tell All, left me — I’ll admit it — verklempt. This is the episode in all Bachelor series where the rejected bachelorettes gather to continue sniping at each other and the bachelor. In this episode, however, the rejected women all of whom were between 60-75, attractive, likeable, successful, and preternaturally toned, reflected as much on the historic nature of the show as on their experiences with each other and with Gerrie, the 72-year-old bachelor (who proved that being a semi-cad is age agnostic). 

‘We’re not invisible.’ ‘We have meaning.’  ‘We have many things to offer.’ ‘It’s not over.’ ‘Hopeful.’ 

There it was. Words and phrases straight out of the DEI lexicon from a cohort that DEI often ignores. The bachelorettes were giving testimony to lifting the veil of being older. To being visible. To being seen. 

Whether you're 50 or 75+, as you think about your own Primetime (even if it doesn’t involve being a contestant on a future The Golden Bachelor or The Golden Bachelorette) it’s important to purposefully plan for and act upon the abundant potential of these 65+ years. Define what success will mean for you at this time of life. Look forward to the possibilities ahead rather than looking back at what’s behind.


Make 65+ sound as good as it is.


Photo credit: RJ Kern


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