Wrinkles don't bother us - but please don’t refer to us as old writes DOUGLAS MITCHELL, as he takes his sixties in his stride.
The Children of the Sixties, who are largely responsible for changing the world (and not necessarily for the better) are now approaching retirement, or are even into it. We regard ourselves as middle-aged at most, and not old-aged at all.
When does old age begin?
Younger people think of 60 as being the start of old age. I remember an uncle of mine turning 60, and thinking that, pretty much, his life was over. Now I have a cousin who’s 87 – and he doesn’t think he’ll be old for at least another three years.
That said, I suspect most of my generation would regard old age as only just beginning at 70, and probably doesn’t kick in until you reach 75 or even 80.
In my younger days, I definitely regarded 60-65 as ‘old’, but I don’t feel much different now to when I was 40 – or even 30. If anything I am healthier from a combination of less stress and more exercise.
I would certainly expect to live longer than my parents, and don’t have that many negative feelings about growing older. We look forward to doing things we didn’t have time for before.
Too busy for pipe and slippers
A generation or so ago, by the time you were 65 to 70, you were old in your own mind. Most people of that age would sit around the house doing very little.
But today’s generation of retired people now still have work connections, and are forever complaining that they’ve no time to do anything bnecause they’re too busy. Some say they’re excited about retirement, and have new projects lined up. And they’ve accumulated wisdom and knowledge they can bring to bear on their projects.
We do worry about things: physical ailments that might take away our independence, losing our memory, losing financial self-sufficiency, being unable to pay the bills and. On the other hand, most children nowadays accept they may need to help their parents as once they were helped.
The case for optimism
Few of us actually worry about dying, and most of us expect we will have a better quality of living in the last fifth of our lives than our parents did. Medical advances and better understanding of the human body have extended the good times for us.
Naturally, people with higher incomes are more optimistic about ageing than those on lower incomes. Women tend to feel more positive than men and university graduates are more positive than those without a degree.
On average, about a third of those over 65 say their health has declined in the last five years; that group is obviously more likely to be concerned about ageing. That still leaves a majority who are in good, or even excellent health overall. Most older people regard ageing as not problem at all – it is, after all just nature, and comes to all of us.
Mutton, lamb and Botox
We should age with dignity, and avoid the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ look. The most popular cosmetic surgery are stomach, eyes and sagging chin. Laser treatment for varicose veins is popular too, but for many of us, Botox is a step too far.
Interestingly, breast enhancement is not as popular as it used to be – a bottom tuck rates much higher. The advent of Viagra and other treatments has also extended our sex lives – in some cases quite dramatically.
Quite a number of us, especially women, take steps to look younger. A majority of women regularly dye their hair – generally to cover grey. The last great frontier for cosmetic companies is to get men to do the same – very few will admit to using hair colour.
Keep your brain switched on
One of the more interesting aspects of growing older is that most of us have tried to eat better, and many of us now take proper exercise for the first time in our lives. Whereas older people used to almost switch off their brains at retirement, most now undertake regular mental exercises – Sudoko has been a big addition to the perennial crossword puzzles.
So if you want to remain young, eat well, exercise and keep your brain active. Looking forward rather than backward To improve longevity, look forward not backward.