WASHINGTON (AP) – After months of fretting about getting older, President Bush turned 60 on Thursday.

“Let me just say this: it’s a lot younger than you think,” the president said as he accepted birthday greetings from a Canadian reporter during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Bush celebrated his birthday with friends on Tuesday at a White House party on Independence Day and there weren’t supposed to be any festivities on Thursday. Still, the occasion was noted in a long day of meetings and public appearances, including a press conference with Harper.

The president received birthday greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin who talked with Bush on the phone Thursday morning about North Korea’s missile tests.

As Bush closed his news conference, a reporter in the audience, Raghubir Goyal, called out that it was his birthday, too. Bush invited him to the podium for a picture. The president asked if anyone else had a birthday and invited them to come up. Two others, reporter Richard Benedetto and State Department employee Todd Mizis joined the birthday celebration.

“Amazing, everybody’s birthday today,” Bush said.

In speech after speech, Bush has referred to himself as the “old president – getting older by the minute, by the way”; as one of “the gray-haired folks”; as “getting older”; and as just flat-out “old.”

“For many boomers, turning 60 is a fairly significant shock,” said Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University. “The generation that believed it would be young forever, clearly will not. … The boomers are having a hard time with the existential reality of life not being one open-ended opportunity after another.”

Dr. J. Edward Hill, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association and a family physician from Tupelo, Miss., has seen many patients display Bush’s chatty angst. But he said the president’s joshing around is one of the healthiest approaches.

“When you worry about something, you talk about it,” he said. “The stints of humor are critically important.”

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