Middle age begins at 55 years, survey suggests

 
Dancers Some say middle age is a state of mind.

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Middle age starts much later than previously thought - at the age of 55, research suggests.

And Britons do not see themselves as elderly until they are nudging 70, the survey of 1,000 UK adults aged 50-plus for the Love to Learn online learning website says.

Previous studies have pinpointed the start of middle age as early as 36.

The research suggests that as the population ages, new cut-off points are being drawn.

According to official national data, there are now more adults over 65 than there are under-16s.

Although seven out of 10 early 50-somethings quizzed for the survey defined themselves as middle-aged, the average age at which the period of life was perceived to start was 54 years and 347 days old.

'State of mind'

However, a sizeable minority, nearly one in five, thought middle age did not begin until after the age of 60.

But almost one in five (19%) said that being middle age is a state of mind, rather than something that begins at a certain age.

The research also asked the panel at what age they thought middle age ends. The average came in at 69 years and 277 days.

This suggests middle age itself now spans 14 years and goes well beyond the government's planned state pension age of 66.

Recent research from charity Age UK, looking at how Europeans categorise themselves, found the average age at which old age is perceived to start is 62. But there was less consensus on when youth ended, ranging from 34 in Sweden to 52 in Greece, with an average of 40.

However the Love to Learn research also found that adults in their 50s were upbeat about the benefits of their age group.

'Old at 60'

Gill Jackson, director of new online course provider Love to Learn, said: "More than half said they have more confidence and experience than younger people and are less afraid of making mistakes."

John Craven, who is supporting the website's launch, said the concept of ageing had changed: "Only a generation ago, many people were pretty old at 60.

"These days most of us in our middle and later years are much younger in our attitudes and it's all about having an active state of mind."

But some older people still appear to be haunted about by obstacles from their past, such as failing the 11-plus school entrance exams.

Decades after the event, nearly half of those who did not pass the grammar school entry test said it brought back negative emotions. And one in five said it had put them off learning permanently.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 493.

    I am over 90, folks who meet me estimate 65. Best way to live long is to have long lived grandparents (98 & 97 in my case). It pays to pay close attention to what we eat. MSG, for instance, is in everything we eat (hiding under many names such as "natural flavoring). - said to be the "secret" in CocaCola and Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is fattening and and habit forming. I walk a mile daily.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 492.

    I was talking to a friend who is 77 and appears to be very fit for his age, until he showed me a card listing all the medicines he has to take each day. My mother at 89 is in a similar situation and I would hazard a guess that a large proportion of over 80's are only being kept alive by pills. You wonder whether ageing is really being accompanied by quality of life.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 491.

    Age should not matter.Right diet and enough exercise can keep you healthy.Thinking of middle age and old age is a game of mind and people around you.Now most of the governments of the world don't want you to become old and start getting the pensions.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 490.

    Isn't it great, reading all the comments from the 50+ generation, who had free education, guaranteed pensions, reasonable house prices and living costs now letting us know they're enjoying early retirement and free healthcare whilst anyone under 40 lives a life of servitude.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 489.

    390.Fatboyfat

    Average life expectancy in the UK is more like 80 the average is kept down by the number of early deaths caused by obesity, smoking etc. Many more people are living into their 100s and doing so with relatively good health.

    Middle age is not a scientific term, if you're 60, fit & feel young you are young. If you're in ill health you can feel old at 30. We are all individuals!

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 488.

    What was that other simple minded media inspired rubbish again, Oh yes,
    'The We are ALL living longer' tripe.

    Sorry we are not ALL living longer. Week after Week we hear of someone famous dying from 55 upwards. Heart disease increases after 45 and is getting worse due to stress levels within British society.

    We are NOT all living longer. Its a downright media driven LIE.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 487.

    Interesting. I've never thought of myself as being old and am presently 72 years. I'm leading a walking holiday in Italy tomorrow and we intend to walk about 50 miles and climb a total of about 6500ft in the next week. I've got a skiing holiday booked for next January and hope to carry out a few more adventures before that. Old is when you can't look after yourself and haven't a clue who you are.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 486.

    The Government will love that, another reason to extend the pension qualification age and make you get a Bus Pass at 70. For a lot of people, trying to get a job or start a new business or career , being past 50 puts them at a considerable disadvantage. Conversely, there are people past 50 that have the money to live a reasonable life. Both sets may be 'optimistic' for different reasons.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 485.

    The difference in people's survey responses can quite simply be explained by the rising median age of the respondents, spiced with some good old confirmation bias (the normal human tendency to prefer evidence which pleases us, and ignore evidence which bothers us).

    We have a cultural stigma against old age which doesn't serve our society well.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 484.

    Age is what you make it, look at the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. You can be 20 and doing nothing and feel old, or being 80 and going for runs everyday and feeling like your 20 again.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 483.

    371.WendyRainbow

    Are you offering to sacrifice yourself to bring down the average life expectancy then?......Thought not!

    It's not how long you live just how you live that makes the impact on the planet.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 482.

    The trouble with surveys...ask a silly question...
    'Middle age' is a concept. Describing someone as 'middle aged' is more about attitude: complacent, comfortable. I don't see the need for the term. One is the age one is, and describing other people one can simply say 'late 30s', or within a certain age group it that is necessary. Why make a point of being imprecise?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 481.

    It all depends on how your internal genetically inhereted system works and how well you are coping. The media dont determine such things, unless like the Express they do so for propaganda purposes.

    Why also do firms lay off the over 50s, something to do with slowing up a little maybe.

    As for the report, more simple minded basic 'If it happens to me it must happen to you' rubbish.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    Rubbish! I'm 50 and I'm middle-aged and proud of it. I'm working full tilt on all sorts of exciting projects, have two jobs, go sailing, cycling and skateboarding. But to consider myself younger than middle aged is just plain stupid. Assuming I live until 80, my middle would have been 10 years ago.
    I guess some people can't face the fact that we are all getting older and eventually we all die.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 479.

    Coming shortly: A debate about middle England. What are the thresholds for joining and leaving?
    That will be followed by another debate about midfielders in football, if they track back to defend a corner are they no longer eligible? What if they score, are they reclassified as strikers? This should keep the research industry going for years.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 478.

    If you want to believe you're not old at 54 then believe it. Just be sure you tell your sperm count that it hasn't changed since you were 16 or that you still haven't gone through the menopause. Good for you if it's true. You're young before 20, middle aged till 40 then you're old. Deny it all you like but everyone else who has ever lived has got old and died.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 477.

    So, if middle age begins at 54 years and 347 days old, how do we describe someone who is only 54 years and 340 days old?

    A youngster? Youth? Young man/woman?

    Is it really sensible to use the same terminology for a 54y/346d person as for a 22 year old?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 476.

    This article is not abotut defining Middle Age, it's about the mindsets that people in their 50's have.
    Basically it appears that a lot of people in their 50's don't consider themselves to be middle aged.
    I'm a spring chicken then at 45, but what to I put my desire for sports cars and bicycles down to, if not mid-life crisis?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 475.

    Why do so many people have to take everything so literally?

    I've always understood 'Middle-Aged' to be an attitude of mind rather than a precise indicator of halfway between cradle & grave.

    By my measure, some of these contributors must have reached Middle-Aged very shortly after taking their first steps :)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 474.

    Just about reaching middle age now as I'm approaching 70 (big party time soon!). Still in the village pantomime, also a fun choir, secretary of our local society and church steward. The difference now is people actually listen to (some) of my opinions and believe me I'm always sounding off at something or someone, often to the BBC

 

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