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Study reveals changing attitudes to middle age

28th August 2013

Brits don’t hit ‘middle age’ until they turn 53, survey reveals.

A lifestyle study of 2,000 men and women commissioned by benenden health found attitudes towards hitting the middle of our years are rapidly changing.

Rising life expectancy and healthier lifestyles mean the average person now feels it’s not until well into our fifties that we begin the downward curve.

Less divide between the age groups was cited as a big contributor with social media sites and lives led increasingly online blurring the lines between young and old.

In fact 53 per cent thought there isn’t really a ‘middle age’ stage of life at all anymore.

The research found the approximate ‘middle age’ has moved from the mid-thirties and into the fifties.

When asked to describe the signs of approaching middle age, Brits cited a frustration with modern tech, an increasing reliance on naps and choosing clothes for comfort over style among the top 40.

Not knowing any songs in the top ten, thinking policemen look very young and taking a flask of tea around with you were also seen as some of the more quirky signs of hitting the middle years.

Yesterday Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at benenden health said: “Brits are happily skipping over the traditional notions of ‘middle age’ as the lines become blurred between what is classed as ‘young’ and ‘old’.

“A variety of factors - including more active lifestyles and healthier living - mean that people find their attitudes towards getting older are changing. Over half of the people surveyed didn’t feel that there even was such a thing as ‘middle age’ anymore.

“It’s clear what age you are has become less important in determining how young you feel.”

Eight in ten people think the term ‘middle age’ is much harder to define now than it used to be and the same number thinks it’s much more a state of mind now than a physical milestone.

In fact, 43 per cent of the over fifties studied felt they had not experienced ‘middle age’ yet.

Nearly three quarters of Brits feel there is less of a divide between the age groups than there used to be.

Improved healthcare was cited as the main reason for a blurring between generations while more than half thought increased communication and social media meant people are defined less and less by their age.

And when it comes to hitting the milestones, the older generation were three times more likely to describe turning 50 as the point they reached a new stage in life than when they turned thirty or forty.

84 per cent of those surveyed by benenden health believe if you think of yourself as old you’ll naturally start to feel old, while the same number feel their happiness directly relates to how healthy they are.

Illness and memory loss are the things people fear most about growing old.

Paul Keenan added: “Being ‘old’ appears to be a state of mind rather than being a specific age. People no longer see ‘middle age’ as a numerical milestone and don’t tend to think of themselves as ‘old’ as they hit their fifties and beyond. I’m 54 myself, with the mind-set of a thirty-something – perhaps sometimes even that of a teenager!”

“Living a healthy and varied lifestyle helps people to keep feeling young and we see people embracing getting older. ‘Middle age’ is becoming a term with less and less significance.”

Top 40 signs of middle age

  1. Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs
  2. Finding you have no idea what ‘young people’ are talking about
  3. Feeling stiff
  4. Needing an afternoon nap
  5. Groaning when you bend down
  6. Not remembering the name of any modern bands
  7. Talking a lot about your joints/ailments
  8. Hating noisy pubs
  9. Getting more hairy – ears, eyebrows, nose, face etc.
  10. Thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young
  11. Preferring a night in with a board game than a night on the town
  12. You don’t know any songs in the top ten
  13. Choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style
  14. Taking a flask of tea on a day out
  15. Obsessive gardening or bird feeding
  16. Thinking there is nothing wrong with wearing an anorak
  17. Forgetting people’s names
  18. Booking on to a cruise
  19. Misplacing your glasses / bag / car keys etc.
  20. Complaining about the rubbish on television these days
  21. Gasping for a cup of tea
  22. Getting bed socks for Christmas and being very grateful
  23. Taking a keen interest in The Antiques Road Show
  24. When you start complaining about more things
  25. Listening to the Archers
  26. You move from radio one to radio two
  27. Joining the National Trust
  28. Being told off for politically incorrect opinions
  29. Flogging the family car for something sportier
  30. When you can’t lose six pounds in two days anymore
  31. You get shocked by how racy music videos are
  32. Taking a keen interest in the garden
  33. Buying travel sweets for the car
  34. Considering going on a ‘no children’ cruise for a holiday
  35. When you know your alcohol limit
  36. Obsessively recycling/ knowing the collection dates
  37. Always carrying a handy pack of tissues
  38. Falling asleep after one glass of wine
  39. Spending more money on face creams / anti-ageing products
  40. Preferring a Sunday walk to a lie in