We're Not Old until 66; for Baby Boomers, Middle Age Spreads Well beyond Your Fifties

Article excerpt

THEY live longer, travel more and have a better quality of life than their parents did at the same age.

So it is no wonder that babyboomers refuse to accept they are getting old.

Many fiftysomethings believe they will be middle aged until they are 66, according to a major study.

Traditionally, old age is thought to creep up at the end of your 50s.

The majority of those surveyed do not see themselves as old and most feel younger than they actually are.

Faced with a long life-expectancy, many are hell-bent on becoming 'skiers' - Spending the Kids Inheritance - rather than being frugal.

And it is more than likely they will enjoy an active sex life until well into their 80s.

The data is the second set of results to be released from the most comprehensive study into the economic, social, psychological and health elements of the ageing process.

Researchers surveyed a group born in England before 1952 at two-yearly intervals. Some 8,780 people were interviewed.

Only one in five agreed with the stereotype that older people become 'grumpy old men or women', while four-fifths were not concerned about getting older.

This overturns the notion that ageing is a negative experience, say the researchers.

Three-quarters of those surveyed do not think of themselves as old - including the majority of 75-year-olds - with only one in 12 having a negative experience of ageing.

Most think middle age goes on until at least the age of 63, with the wealthiest and most healthy saying it lasts until 66. Middle age is usually defined as 40 to 59.

Just two groups are negative about the prospect of getting older, those aged 55-59 and those aged 80 or more.

'It seems there are two stages in life - pre-retirement age and reaching very old age - at which ageing is experienced less positively,' said lead researcher Professor Sir Michael Marmot, of the University College London Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. …