Redefine ageing

Is your age just as old as you feel, and how happy are you with that?

What is middle-aged? 

A quick look at the Oxford English Dictionary says 45 to 65.  However, Wikipedia is much broader (and trying to be politically correct I think) by classifying it as the ‘period between young adulthood but before the onset of old age’.

If I’d lived in the Bronze or Iron Age I’d have died decades ago (life expectancy 26 years of age) and even in 2010 the world life expectancy at birth was 67.2 years.  This data all leaves me to focus because I have so many plans for the future that to get everything done I’m going to need to be around long enough to get a letter from the King.

I’ve noticed as I’ve got older that aging not only affects the body, but it can bring with it a decline in self-confidence.  Up until this time there may have been mortgages and car payments to meet, children to school, weddings to pay for and corporate ladders to climb.  But as these commitments wind down there is time to relax and reflect, travel to pursue and bucket lists to tick.  The easing off from demanding career roles, and then even retirement, can bring about a feeling of relevance deprivation.  People are left unsure about how to feel good about their lives when they are cut off from the external gratification that comes from the workplace and levels of happiness can be eroded.

Worldwide life expectancy differs because of many different and obvious factors, but in the west with buoyant economies, good healthcare and access to fresh food and water, we are definitely living longer than our ancestors did. 

So am I old at 61?  I don’t feel old, but I know that if I want to take advantage of the longer years, I really need to keep an active mind, a relatively fit body and engage in relationships with people who really matter to me. And I need to laugh….a lot.

So much in the media has been tied up with youth and beauty, but I believe that the tide is starting to turn.  No longer do those of us with disposable income want to see clothes we may be interested in displayed on tiny, 16 year old models.  We want make-up and skincare that will work on our skin and our changing colouring.  We want to be marketed to appropriately. 

I am excited to see models like Nicola Griffin who is 57 and only started modelling at 53, Daphne Self who is 88 and has been in the industry for over 50 years, and Iris Apfel who is a world famous fashion icon at 98.  I welcome our plus sized models and female bloggers, who show what clothes really look like on a real body.  I salute Tricia Cudsen from the UK, who at 65 felt that there wasn’t a makeup brand specifically for older faces, so went out and started one that today is internationally successful.

Friends of mine who are retired from the workforce are taking places on boards, playing sport, studying at university and learning all sorts of new skills.  A body that has been functioning for 60 plus years needs to been looked after, nourished and kept moving.  Aches and pains are inevitable, but there is plenty that can be done to ensure that the body doesn’t wear out whilst the mind is still willing and social interaction is as important as keeping the mind active and alert. 

Activities I would encourage are reading, researching, learning new skills, planning trips, taking up hobbies, enrolling in courses, volunteering, starting new businesses and hanging out with people who will challenge your thinking and make you laugh.  Let go of negativity, worrying, reality TV and people who don’t uplift you.

Age is just a number, happiness can be achieved, life is what you make of it, and the opposite of getting old is just not worth thinking about.