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Are you growing old (dis)gracefully?


Retiresavvy finds middle age begins just after 39, but one in five Brits refuse to grow old and women have a more youthful outlook than men

Are you celebrating getting older? Middle age hits just one month after your 39th birthday, a study by retiresavvy has revealed.

We teamed up with polling company OnePoll to survey 2,000 Brits on attitudes to ageing. We found that people find ‘middle aged activities’ – like wearing beige, covering up grey hair with dye and dressing for comfort rather than style – acceptable from an average age of 39 years and one month. 

The survey, which was carried out in June, found that on average, wearing slippers and enjoying a cheese board after dinner is ok from 32, sporting an anorak is fine once you hit 37, while talking about the 'youth of today' is for the over-45s. 

Andrew Sheen, editor, said: “It’s often said that you’re only as old as you feel, and this survey proves it. We’ve found that things many people would associate with middle age – like a comfy pair of slippers or settling down to watch Antiques Roadshow – are increasingly enjoyed by today’s 30-somethings. 

“It seems that younger people want or expect older generations to go quietly into later life, but we’ve found there’s a sizeable number of people who have no intention of doing so.” 

Time to put away the skinny jeans 

Some ‘youthful’ activities have an upper age limit on them. The survey found that people think having a favourite boy band or using text talk isn’t acceptable after age 36, while getting tattoos and piercings or being drunk in public are not cool after people turn 38. 

Wearing skinny  jeans is not acceptable after you turn 47, those over 44 should stay away from nightclubs, and visit Ibiza or going on a lads’ or girls’ holiday is out of the question after 40. 

Despite this, Brits have taken social media to their hearts, with eight in ten saying it is fine to have a Facebook or Twitter profile at any age. 

And while being ‘old’ is generally felt to start in the six months leading up to someone’s 65th birthday, a whopping 84% of those surveyed said that age is just a number. 


As old as you feel? 

Our survey also found that 78% of respondents believe people now act younger than ever before, much later into life – with 82% thinking this is perfectly acceptable.

One in five Brits firmly reject the idea that adults should grow old gracefully or accept that they are too old for certain activities, fashions and hobbies – with women the most likely to reject stereotypes of older age. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women thought it was more acceptable to dye their hair, have perms and go for beauty treatments than men. But they are also more likely to wear trainers, watch reality tv, listen to Radio One, follow pop music, take selfies and have the latest gadgets than their male counterparts. 

Andrew Sheen added: “All too often, women are expected to fade into the background when they reach a certain age, but we’ve found that they’re increasingly staying young. In fact, women are much more likely to be enjoying themselves doing ‘young’ things and turning their backs on traditional ideas of older age than men. Perhaps men could learn a thing or two from them.”

This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.

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