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What is in a name?

85 years young, 85 years old

The type of language we use to describe “older” people tells us a lot about our attitudes to ageing.

There are many terms that were commonplace 10/20 years ago, which thankfully have been shuffled out of the way.

That still leaves us with what is acceptable.

In my opinion, that is where it can become very simple or very difficult.

One size fits all isn’t a great formula, and recognising that we are individuals and therefore will have different preferences isn’t a complex concept to grasp but does seem a difficult one to act on.Personally and irrationally, I’m not a fan of the “X years young” approach. It always feels ageist and even more so when describing yourself!

I am pretty sure my preference will change in time, but for now, I quite like the “Ronseal” approach (A rather British expression, dear reader, for being exactly what it is with no frills). We are what we are, and if people don’t like it, more fool them!
I have seen people become very agitated by the language (and let us not go for the imagery, yet there is a heap more to be said about that).

The growing movement of owning your age (whatever it is) strikes me as a good thing. No reason for us to be trying to pretend we are something we aren’t. In a world where many of us will get to live to well past 100 being comfortable with higher numbers is going to be a necessity!

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

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What I learnt from (another) year running a book club

When I was a child and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a reporter and writer. Ironically my grasp of the English language and handwriting that looked like a spider running across the page (thanks, Dad) closed that door firmly shut.

My love of reading didn’t really kick in until my 20s and the point I was doing it on my terms.

I now feel like things have gone full circle, as setting up and running a book club was never high on my agenda. My focus on all things ageing led me to set up my own business focused on this area, and the book club was a bi-product of this focus. I started in lockdown in 2020; it has become more than I ever thought. It has helped me meet some fantastic authors, had me read some great books and helped bring the experience to more people globally.

My book club is more a conversation with the author than a more classic read and discuss style club. I pick a book I have read/am about to read/want to read, approach the author and see if they will participate.

Thankfully I’m yet to have a rejection! Last year I was again lucky enough to read and talk to some fantastic authors.

Anna Dixon was at the time CEO of the UK’s Centre for Ageing Better. Her book The Age of Ageing Better covers a comprehensive range of topics and helps to spotlight some of the many areas we haven’t come to terms with.

To have her join us on a February evening to share her perspectives was both stimulating and uplifting. There is a part of her book where she outlines a pretty grim scenario (The Age of Ageing Badly) where adverse outcomes around health and employment hit society hard; there is also an interesting take on housing and homes for the future and what could happen if we plan for it.

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Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Next up, we had Andrew Steele’s Ageless. Andrew as a scientist, brought a very different viewpoint. What if we can slow/stop the process of ageing and therefore avoid some of the things that restrict quality of living. The phrase how to live long enough to live even longer is one I’m pretty sure I will be using for as long as I’m …

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Back to 89

Raving I’m raving (over 30 years later)

Midlife, Middle Age, the bit in the middle.

However you define it (Gaby Logan’s The Midpoint podcast uses the 35 to 58 definition from The Economic and Social Research Council), I have heard it described otherwise as anything from 30–60.

How we behave and the challenges we face as we get older are not new.

The environment we are doing it in now is different. Be it the plethora of people focused on how “young” they look (personally, no thanks from me) to those in lockdown who decided to let the grey out (if only — I’m headed straight to white) or the emerging trend of colouring your hair grey/silver.

For those of my generation, the period of the late 80s/early 90s was an incredible time for music. Specifically, in my eyes, Dance music. I can remember dancing until dawn and all the good bits (my memory has done a great job of removing the less good moments).

I’m not sure what I thought I’d be like 30 years later when I got to my 50s, but I didn’t know it would include the desire to carry on the same behaviour!

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Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

I’m no trend watcher, but I think there has been something stirring in the older ravers marketplace. Digital radio in the UK has made it super accessible, and if I take a station like Centreforce88.3, you have a vast community of diverse people united in one simple thing:

Music and the joy it brought 30 or so years ago and is still doing so now.

For all the talk of Boomers, there is an equivalent that can be applied to Generation X. A group who have seen tremendous change and for whom getting older in relatively good health carries evolved expectations.

So watch out, world — the ravers, are back (and in all honesty, never really went away). As the world reopens after covid, the fields may well be full of midlifers going wild to classic dance tunes.

Hopefully, see you there!

Main photo by ELEVATE from Pexels

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Turning Back Time

Or is it onward and upward?

I feel Old. I look terrible. I’m tired. I hear and read this far too often for my liking. Often from people I think should “know better”. It really needs to stop!

Middle Age/Midlife/Midpoint is my home for now. The uncomfortable part where you feel different in some ways — older but nowhere near old or over. Perhaps with a nagging sense, this is a better time than you realise. And to be honest, lucky to be enjoying a life stage, my forbears did not.

I’m pretty comfortable here and take the obvious positive — I have made it this far!

I’m doing okay and every day I wake up I’m building on this solid start.

This has however come with some (internal to me) expectations.

I ought to be “set” for life by now.

My home should be a palace.

My retirement planning should be complete, my goal “number” set.

Expectation, however, can be wonderful and savage at the best of times. Add a global pandemic into the mix and it is even more challenging!

Being self-employed in midlife when everything closes up is not a great place to be — particularly when you were just starting on a new chapter. The doubts make themselves welcome in your head.

The temptation is to think about more straightforward and more comfortable times when everything felt easier and new. To reminisce only about the good old days and not overthink about the apocalyptic future that awaits us.

Hard as it is, I check myself. I think about possibilities and remind myself of the facts I know.

You are likely only at the halfway point.

The opportunity has gone nowhere. It just looks different, and you don’t yet recognise it for what it is!

That holiday, learning French to a good conversational standard, that Economics degree can all happen if you focus your mind on it. In fact, it is more likely now than at any previous stage of life.

So next time you felt the doubts kick in, check some data on life expectancy or what you can do to help age well. You might just help yourself extend your horizon and allow yourself a heap of new chances to do something great.

It is not about turning back time it is about taking your time and enjoying the ride! After all, isn’t that the …

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Surviving COVID

I had COVID-19 last March. Not for the first time in my life, I was an early adopter.

My case was fortunate, with no hospitalization or severe breathing difficulties — instead, three weeks in bed with very low energy.

My wife showed signs just before me (and back then, the details were sketchy along with limited testing availability), but it didn’t stop her from carrying on with her hectic routine. We believed it was a mild case of seasonal flu/a a winter bug.

I got an early heads up on the case care of my whoop band, the data of which suggested something was up even if I wasn’t yet feeling unwell. And sure enough, after a few days, it hit me — three days of feeling terrible.

I then perked up — to the point I thought it was fine, and it was just a “normal” seasonal bug. Then the relapse and Two weeks of feeling very unwell- not able to get out of bed sick. No appetite, hard to drink, and hot/cold flashes.

My recovery was robust, thankfully — after three weeks, the power was switched back on, and I slowly recovered. I haven’t had any long covid symptoms. My path back has been pretty intense; my summer fitness levels were as high as anything I can remember.

What have I learned from this experience?

Life happens to us in the most curious ways; I feel like I swerved one with my experience. It messed things up for me and my business in the most frustrating way. Just as I was getting going as a freelancer, I was incapacitated, having to pause conversations and projects I had live. All of which then stopped as the pandemic raged whilst in my sickbed, providing another level of very unwelcome stress.

Whatever life throws at us, we can and do find ways to cope.

The upside to this story and the reason I have shared this a year is that I’m on my way to donate convalescent plasma today. Nearly a year after having Covid, I am a High Titre (very high level of antibodies) donor, so my contributions can make a difference to others in a worse spot than I found myself in March 2020.

So, If you think you can donate, please do consider it. The thought that my donation might help someone who has/is suffering feel better or …

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Middle Aged Man Walking

So simple — yet it took a pandemic to get me started.

As someone who usually is physically active and playing sport three or four times a week, it has been very frustrating to have my wings clipped by the pandemic.

But there has been an upside.


On my own. With my family. Fast (thanks to one peloton) power walks or slower rambles.

It is a chance to clear my head of the negativity and stress that thinks it has a license to come and stay whenever it wants.

Calls thanks to my handsfree headphones. Listening to audiobooks & podcasts. Or whatever I can hear on my route. Birds chirping (not something I had noticed a lot in my part of London) or the dogs chasing after each other (lockdown cannot be much fun for animals either).

Focusing on the straightforward — body alignment, ground striking, breathing would not have seemed that exciting a year ago, but that has changed. Having said this, I think chiropodists are going to be busy when allowed to reopen in the spring.

I’m passionate about issues relating to depression — particularly in middle-aged men (primarily because I am one). The benefits of meeting up in a group and taking a walk and TALKING cannot be under-estimated.

I know I’m not alone and have had multiple conversations with men in midlife who feel the same. Some have groups they meet up with (when allowed), and some go out on their own. All have a clear intention to continue as the world starts to reopen.

I’m going to keep it going and would love to hear more about your favorite lockdown walks — be it a park, beachfront, or somewhere more unlikely.

Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

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Thoughts From A Year Running A Bookclub About Aging

I started a book club with the good people of Aging2.0 in lockdown. I’m fascinated by all things related to an ageing society and realised I was spending a lot of time (and money) on books about this topic. I found them inspiring but really wanted to get more from the authors and thought I was not alone, so thought I’d do something about it.

I had never been a member of a book club in my life and wasn’t much of a reader as a child, so was a bit daunted. I figured I’d give mine a twist of having the author join a Zoom call for a Q&A discussion at the end of each reading cycle. To be honest, it is as much conversation/Q&A with the author as conventional Book Club, but convention was never my thing.

Thankfully the business of aging is full of terrific people. I have had the pleasure of conversations with some great authors and a diverse, knowledgeable and global group of attendees.

My first author and book was Carl Honore — Bolder. I loved this book so much I doubled up on it (audiobook and paperback). Many things within it resonated from the experience of wearing an aging suit or the Gateshead Hockey tournament, which sparked Carl’s things. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Bookclub! The optimistic nature of the book struck a chord with me. Carl is also an excellent speaker so having him share some of his anecdotes and perspective got us off to the best possible start.

Next up was something a little bit different — Louise Aronson’s Elderhood. Given her expertise, the book is a fascinating look at how society considers older adults and the beautiful simplicity of naming and defining the life stage following childhood and adulthood. There are some very personal moments in the book, and talking to someone in her position in the middle of a pandemic was a privilege. I listened to the audiobook during spring walks in the depth of the first UK national lockdown.

For the third book, I thought we’d try something a bit different. Wendy Mayhew is a force of nature and her book Wiser is a great practical guide to setting up a business after the age of 50. We had a fascinating discussion about what this means to an aging society and where …

Magic Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all

Magic Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?

We all have a Magic Mirror.

They become more powerful as we age.

Mine, for example, shows a version of myself from the mid-90s.

The wisdom from experts in this field is that we all see ourselves as between 10 and 20 years younger than we are (at least in chronological terms).

I think (and act at least according to my family) as I did in my Thirties. It is true of everyone I know around my chronological age.

In every marketing research group, I have ever been to featuring people close to/retired. They all picture themselves as c20 years younger than their age and expressed extreme views around not wanting to hang out with “old” people in many cases. That probably tells you all you need to know about how deeply ingrained Ageism is in society!

Interestingly the point at which old age starts is also contentious with the conclusion that no one ever thinks of themselves as in this part of life’s 4th Quarter. In my experience, this also becomes more acute with affluence. The live forever mentality fuelled by science and longevity has become a thing and is a valuable industry all of itself. Perhaps we will see a reclaiming/repurposing of some of the words that have a negative association.

Given all this, why do we continue to see so many wrinkly hands and people looking sorry for themselves in promotional activity aimed at the over 50s?

There is a growing army of like-minded people on social media in particular who are actively calling this out, and a lot of the challenge is the result of the photography used. Far too often, the default imagery used in Marketing and the Media is from the end of life/vulnerable/the game is up phase. It is complemented by cliched pictures of grey-haired couples skipping hand in hand along the beach for variety.

Given that Midlife as a life stage is new (for the uninitiated think of roughly 50 to 70 years old and the diversity of people you know in this age group as a starting point). Then add the historically short gap between retirement and death when Midlife was a rarity, there is a lot of educating to do!

Many of us will spend an ever longer part of our existence in Midlife and stretch its definition. If you take the view of golfer Bryson DeChambeau midlife for him …

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6 Reasons why life really does start again at 50

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about Ageism as a result of Covid19. It isn’t new, but the spotlight has been on in a way it usually isn’t.

The impact felt by Care Homes, the heavy-handed blanket stay at home message to all those over 70 and some of the age-based choices on who does/doesn’t get treatment show very clearly that Society has a way to go in coming to terms with more of us living longer.

The imagery and tone of this coverage make it even harder to stomach wrinkly handed imagery, gravitation to end of life and general ignorance to the midlife phase that many of us will spend a 1/3rd of our lives in. The ism that is still allowed to go unchallenged far too often isn’t being dealt with at all yet.

If you are or know someone with what is often referred to as a special or significant birthday this year I’m pretty confident they will not be looking forward to receiving their first over 50s plan mailing, “hilarious” when I’m 64 cards or suddenly developing a longing for Werther’s originals. This multiplies as you get older — over 80? Must be a miracle, and you surely cannot be active/not given up. Stories of Dame Judy on the front of Vogue or 100-year-old skydivers gain interest because they are outliers not commonplace as they really ought to be. The truth, of course, is lots of people in their 70s, 80s and beyond are peacefully carrying on as they have for years!

Which got me thinking again about the many reasons to consider an ageing society in Marketing plans which while seemingly obvious happens so rarely. So, in not very original style figured I’d share six great reasons why you should consider older consumers in your thinking:

1) We are getting older!
According to ONS, in 2019, there were 12.4million adults over the age of 65 in the UK.

Research from 2018 by the Centre for Ageing Better found that in the following 20 years the number of people aged over 65 would grow by more than 20%.

This means continued growth in spending power which is even more relevant in a recession as who will still have money to spend to meet their needs? There is, after all, a reason fraudsters perpetrate so much of their efforts on older consumers. …