“Middle-age begins at 60, say researchers”. That’s what a recent Times headline claimed.

Sadly, the research the report was based on said no such thing. Nor did it back up the Daily Telegraph’s headline, “baby boomers refuse to grow old”. Instead, the study argues that people should be seen as old when they are in their last 10-15 years of life based on average life expectancy, rather than when they reach 65. In the UK this is currently around 79 years for men and 82 for women. (Expectations that it will keep rising have been recently dented.)

Does this matter? Read More →

What letter would you write to your teenage self?

I’ve been reading Nicola Morgan’s Letter to my teenage self. Her teenage years weren’t happy, and the novelist and author of The Teenage Guide to Stress and Blame my Brain empathises with that teenage self. She wants today’s teenagers to understand what’s going on in their heads so they can be less hard on themselves; can see how their current worries will fade in the long run.

“You are a work in progress; you are becoming and have not become; you are not finished, and with luck you never will be: there’s always room to change.”

It got me thinking about what a similar letter from myself would look like. Read More →

The feminists who made waves in the 70s and 80s are ageing, and some of them are talking publicly about it. Lynne Segal gives her perspective in Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing.

She ponders the question “how should we live our lives?” A question just as relevant in old age, which, she says, “should be posed so long as we are still capable of asking it.”

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What do you call very old people?

“Real Seniors” was the choice in a recent BBC poll of over-85s. Although as the other options were “Long Lived”, “Wisdom Warriors”, “The Very Oldies” and “The Venerables”,  it wasn’t much of a choice.

The argument is that we have to distinguish the very old from the merely old because they have different social and health needs. But does categorising people by age really tell us anything? Read More →

“All I know is it changes me, just seeing that there can be changes in later life, that the possibility of change, of creating and re-creating your life is never ending. It has nothing to do with age.”

Betty Friedan’s The Fountain of Age is an important, wise, inspiring book, first published in 1993. It’s wide-ranging, well-researched and packed with stories and data. It is also 654 pages long.

I’ve read it so you don’t have to!

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