Read our list of “Independent Heroes” who all made significant contributions to world history well into their “senior” years–th of July, Americans will celebrate 238 years since we as a nation declared our independence. Over those years the average age and life span of Americans has grown considerably. In 1776, the average life expectancy in America was 35 years. In 2014, the average life expectancy is now 76 for men and 81 for women. Life expectancy has more than doubled and quality of life has changed in ways (good and sometimes bad) that our forefathers never could have imagined.
Often times in today’s world age is as much a state of mind as it is physical. As the saying goes, “if you haven’t grown up by the age of 50—you don’t have too….”
Many of the great figures of world history achieved their famous accomplishments late in life. Age for this list was never an issue—and they remained independent and productive sometimes past the age of 100!
Heroes of the Independent Generation:
- Ben Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 at age 70 (double the average life expectancy of the time)
- Ronald Regan was elected President of the United States at age 69
- Winston Churchill served as British Prime Minister twice, first elected at the age of 66 in 1940 and elected again at the age of 77 in 1951
- Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa at age 76
- Grandma Moses started painting at age 76 and continued until her death at age 101
- Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House on the Prairie at age 64
- Ray Kroc launched McDonald’s at age 52 (while battling diabetes and arthritis)
- Julia Child first learned to cook after the age of 50 and went on to publish her first cookbook and launch her PBS TV show The French Chef
- Gandhi led India to independence through his campaign of passive resistance and his great peace march at the age of 61
- Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 69
We now live in an age where everyone is empowered by technology and instantaneous means of communication. The internet and social media has opened up a world where no matter your age (or gender), your voice can be heard and have immediate impact. Advancements in healthcare and senior living options such as assisted living and home care have made it possible for seniors to remain independent, engaged and productive at levels never before seen in world history.
Are you too old to be independent on Independence Day? The answer is you are never too old to exert independence and have a positive and meaningful impact on those around you—and on those around the world. Don’t let age be a barrier to your independence—seize the day on the 4th of July and on every day!! Have a happy and safe 4th of July!