Great news. You may be younger than you think.

There’s now a new way to calculate what counts as ‘middle age’ and ‘old age’ – and I think you’ll like it.

How does it sound to be told 60 is the new middle age? And that you should not be branded as ‘elderly’ until you are at least 70?

Please understand, this is not my wishful thinking but is based on serious research. And it’s something that matters to you and me for three big reasons – which I’ll get to.

But first the facts.

These experts tell us ‘old age’ should no longer be defined by how long someone has lived. Instead, it should depend on how many years someone has left to live – with people now living longer and healthier lives.

What does that mean for us in the UK?

The average clog-popping age is 79 for men and 83 for women. And when aging is seen in this way, ‘old’ becomes a word to only use of those with a life-expectancy of 10 to 15 years or less.

I can almost hear you doing the sums now – and hope you like what they add up to for you.

The expert behind all this is Dr Sergei Scherbov who says, ‘What we think of as old has changed over time and it will need to continue changing in the future, as people live longer, healthier lives.’

Dr Scherbov, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, used projections of Europe’s population until the year 2050 to look at how an increasing life expectancy changes the definition of “old. He highlights that two hundred years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person. But no longer.

Although healthy living, modern medicine, education, and more contribute to living longer, the research doesn’t suggest we are reaching middle age later. Rather, that middle age is simply going on for longer, with old age postponed to our last fifteen years of life.

And the three big issues in all this that matter to you and me?

  1. Government – national and local – must use this more accurate basis for their planning and provision. This is true of churches to too. Plans, projects and resources need to take account of the growing number of retired and active people – those who would once have been considered ‘old’ but not any longer.
  2. Churches must allocate resources and create programmes to cater for their new ‘middle-aged’. And must open their minds to the rich resource they offer to the life of the church. There’s more on this on the AfterWorkNet website under What Church Leaders Should Know.
  3. Those who are themselves the new ‘young-old’ must escape from the expectations of the past. They are not their parents or grandparents. And, with a more accurate understanding of themselves and their years ahead, they should grab their new season of life with all the passion it deserves. For ideas as to what this could mean see New Challenges.

To put it in a nutshell, if you are 65ish – or a bit more – then be sure to strut your stuff as a middle-ager. You may be moving into the slow lane, and have some joints that growl from time to time, but you are not ‘old’. So don’t live that way.

 

Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to afterworknet.com

Comments

  1. Thank you Peter for your blog and for your encouragement.
    It’s great to know that I am not as old as I thought I was.
    It is also fantastic to see you continuing to engage in blessing others as you have done over the decades! I was working with the Baptist Church in Ireland in the 1970’s and enjoyed BUZZ Magazine.
    ♦ Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1:2 | NIV

  2. I am just writing to encourage anyone who is about to retire or who has already finished their ‘working’ career. Although I am retired I have a one day a week voluntary job.I have been church treasurer for many years and know I am valued for this and for just being a member of the church. I have always been active but after retiring took up cycling & have twice done the Lands end to John O’Groats ride. I have just ridden 30 miles today in the lovely Gloucestershire countryside. I have been blessed with good health but am no one special and definitely not a fitness fanatic. Most people can walk or cycle-we don’t have to put our feet up and lead sedentary lives when we retire. All the medical people tell us that just a little exercise every day will bring great benefit in may ways. I intend to keep active for as long as I am able. I am aged 71!

    1. Christopher – thanks. Are you a member of the AfterWorkNet Facebook group as I’d love you to post this comment there also where many more would see it. Very impressed!

  3. It’s 7 years since I had surgery for a double heart bypass (I’d had virtually no symptoms so it was a shock). I enjoy walks each month with as many as two dozen colleagues from United Utilities. We usually walk 10 miles or so somewhere in the North West of England enjoying a pub lunch about 2/3 of the way round. I’m 72 & grateful to be able to continue doing this!

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife