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Turning 65, Then and Now

One thing is certain: It's a whole different world.

Times have changed. Now that you're touching down in a brave new world, you're facing health and lifestyle challenges, a revolution in technology and the prospect of economic uncertainty as you head into your golden years.

Here's a look back at the way things were in 1980, when the parents of today's boomers began to retire, and today's new reality:

Then: You could retire at 65 with full Social Security benefits.
Now: The golden age is 66.

Then: There were 19.5 million retirees receiving an average of $905 a month, adjusted for inflation, from the Social Security Administration.
Now: 34.6 million retirees receive an average of $1,175 a month.

Then: You received an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) in your Social Security benefits and you could depend on that every year:
Now: There's a COLA freeze.

Then: Medicare didn't pay for prescription drugs.
Now: They're now covered under Part D with an extra fee.

Then: Medicare Part B premium was $23 a month, adjusted for inflation.
It was $96.40 in 2010.

Then: You could earn money in saving accounts because of double-digit interest rates.
Now: Rates are about as low as 1 percent.

Then: A 1996 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found the percentage of retirees in 1996 that were very confident they would have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement stood at 30 percent.
: The same survey taken in 2010 found only 16 percent believed they would be financially secure throughout their golden years.

Then: 2.9 million people had Alzheimer's disease.
Now: 5.3 million people suffer from this devastating illness as the population of older Americans swells.

Then: Sexual performance problems were rarely discussed in public, and there weren't many treatment options.
Now: Commercials for "ED" drugs flood the airwaves, and consumers are responding: Between 2006 and 2009 alone, Viagra sales in the U.S. grew 21 percent to $994 million.

Then: Your health plan didn't focus on preventive care, diet or quit-smoking programs.
Prevention is the name of the game for every health plan. Some plans even charge smokers more for premiums.

Then: If you had arthritis in your hip, you likely endured chronic discomfort. Now: You can opt to have your hip replaced with titanium parts.

Then: About 84 percent of Americans has a defined benefit pension in 1980.
Now: Only 33 percent had a pension in 2009.

Then: The Internet was largely unknown, and most people relied on the U.S. mail and a wall phone to communicate, and on radio, TV and newspapers for their information.
Now: 17.5 million people over 65 use the Internet and growing numbers get their news and information from websites, connect with one another on Facebook and talk to grandkids via Skype.

Then: In 1980, 17.2 percent over the age of 65 smoked.
Now: The figure is down to about 9 percent.

Then: The Sun Belt was the retirement dream: In 1980, 492,528 people migrated to Florida, while 195,707 left.
Now: In 2008, more people left the Sunshine State than moved there: 413,357 moved in, 438,085 left.

Then: Most people retired by age 65, and then pursued travel, relaxation and hobbies.
Now: In a recent AARP survey, 31 percent of people who were working said they had "retired" from a previous job. And 40 percent said they planned on working "till they dropped." Many boomers talk about "re-invention" as a top retirement priority.