Boomers teeter on the edge of 'old'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It's a bummer, man.

Millions of baby boomers, raised on rock 'n' roll and once the drivers of America's youth culture, have finally been tossed in with their aged parents. They're now part of the U.S. Census Bureau's "older population," meaning everyone age 55 and up.

The post-World War II baby boom arrived between 1946 and 1964, and the oldest of them are turning 57 this year. That puts many of them squarely in the bureau's first category of elders, between ages 55 and 64 -- the "near old." It's a new term. "We don't know who invented it," said a slightly defensive Wan He, a Census Bureau demographer. "It's for statistical analysis. It's not personal."

It was invented to track the behaviors of large numbers of boomers as they near and launch their retirement, she said, describing her age only as "not 'near-old' yet, but approaching there."

If they make it to 65, boomers will graduate to the "young old." At 75, they'll join the nation's "old old." And when they're 85, they'll enter the final but mercifully open-ended fraternity of the "oldest old."

As "near-oldsters," boomers will soon get the answer to a question that has hung over them since Lennon and McCartney first posed it in 1967: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"

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