200 Steps of Ageing. Part 3

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Age 35:
- More of your peers will be married now; some will already be divorced. If you are single now, you are probably in the minority. Men and more commonly women are becoming scared of being left on the shelf, and so settle for second best. If you want children then you are running out of time if you don't have a partner now.
- Of your peers from fifteen years ago, some will be more successful than others in that group will ever be or could ever be. There are career progressions that you just could not get on because of your age.
- You will never be the world's strongest man if you begin body building at this age, and you are unlikely to be able to beat an eighteen year old at running. If you were a footballer you would probably have retired by now.
- You will have friends who you may not have seen in twenty years. When you meet them you will expect them to be the same as they were, but they too will have grown up. They will have jobs and children and responsibilities. The significant parts of their lives will most likely have been since you last knew them. They won't be as fun as they used to be when they were younger (and neither will you). They won't have time for the trivialities you used to enjoy as children. To you they will appear tired, wrinkled and old, just as you will to them. If you stay with them for long enough, they will become to appear less tired and old, and you will begin to recognise aspects of their past personality.
- Your parents, if still alive, are probably the same age as your grandparents were when you were a child, or even older. A child will think of them as really old.
- Men will probably have some back hair and more nose and ear hair by now. They may have random long eyebrows. In time all your eyebrows might grow long and have to be trimmed.
- Previously, if you were in a hurry you would run to places to make up time; now you will begin to think that some distances are too far to run, and running is too much trouble.
- If you are female then you are running out of time if you want to have children; if you are male then you are running out of time if you want to have children with a woman of your own age.
- This may be the first time you realise that there is a time limit on your life. Whereas before now you could take risks, make mistakes, and try again, now your years have become more precious. You don't have the time left to waste years of your life on retraining for jobs you might not like. If you were sent to prison it would eat up really valuable time of your remaining life, that you could never replace. When you buy a box of a hundred matches you don't care about wasting them, but when you realise you only have a few left, you treat each one as if it were made of gold. The years are matches and they won't last forever.
- Younger people may call you "middle-aged" to your face, without realising that you find it insulting. It is other people who decide whether you are middle aged, not you.
- You may see people who look "middle aged" in your every day life, but not realise that they are the same age as you. If you weren't so used to your own face, you would think that you yourself looked older. You may only notice how old you really look when you see yourself in photographs.
- This is around the age that you will begin to be confused by new technology. You will begin to fail to understand what things are or why people would want to use them. In a past generation an example would be the video recorder - people had great difficulty setting them up and using them, whereas younger people (and especially young children) had no difficulty at all. As you get older there will be more things like this. You may not understand how to work new technology, not necessarily because of intellectual inability, but because you don't really care enough to put the effort in to learn. Younger people might even presume that you are incapable of understanding new technology, and so prevent you from learning even if you wanted to.
- Cultural tastes mean that there will be a revival for the music and styles of your youth. This is partly because people your age are now in control of television, film and music companies, and partly because children are the right age to be an audience for their parents' style of music. The revival will be a sanitised and updated version - just as our view of the 1970s is one of bright colours and flares, rather than bombs and strikes.
- You will begin to see deteriorations in the mental abilities and state of your parents.
- If you are female and single there is a high chance you will have a cat.
- If you are male and single and living in the countryside, you have a higher chance of owning a dog.
- This is a common age for "midlife crises". You might look back at your life and worry about how your life isn't how you want it to be. Unless you are Superman, your entire life up to now has probably been unfulfilling compared to the aspirations you had as a child. It is unlikely you are as rich as you want to be, and if you are, you will realise that wealth doesn't make you as happy as you thought it would. The fact is that most people have always had mundane jobs, but films and television have made us want something more out of life.

Age 40:
- Most women who wanted to have children will have probably had them by now. If you are not already a father, it is less likely that you will find a woman your age to have children with, and so any future mother of your children will be younger and therefore have less in common with you.
- Women will start to get the menopause any age from around now onwards.
- The chances of you having had a friend who has died are very high.
- If you are of a literary nature, you will begin to notice or get annoyed by the change in use of words and language. It might annoy you how the rules of language have become less strict, and how everyone uses slang.
- You will be the same age as a lot of politicians and other people in authority.
- People your age (and older still) will still make jokes and patronising remarks about much older people, without any awareness of the irony. Younger people might insult you by calling you "old" without thinking about how stupid such an insult is. We are all on the same conveyor belt.
- People your own age will look old to you.
- At this age, when people ask "what do you do for a living?" there may be more of an expectation to justify what you done in your life up to this point too.
- You will look at people with children and realise that, despite their children worshipping them as knowledgeable gods, they are just as lost as everyone else in the world.

If you have eaten extremely badly or drunk a lot of alcohol all your life, then it is now that such misbehaviour will start to catch up with you.

This is around the age when you might start to develop age-related medical conditions that will last until the day you die e.g. arthritis, back pain, muscle problems, deafness etc. If you want to know what hindsight will tell you later on in life, it might include: don't involve yourself in pursuits where you can get injured unnecessarily; don't perform repetitive joint activities for very long times (e.g. years); don't do high impact sports; don't listen to very loud music; don't smoke; don't be a soldier; stay out of fights; don't wear ill fitting shoes; and perhaps most importantly of all, don't ever lift heavy furniture, but get someone else you don't care about to do it instead.

You can go deaf, get arthritis, and develop crippling diseases without doing any of these things. However, when it happens, you might still think back and wonder if following this advice would have helped. Conversely there is the view of Hunter S. Thompson, which makes for a much more interesting life, but a much more painful and restricted old age:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

If you have been otherwise healthy throughout your life, you will now realise that modern medicine isn't as good as you previously thought. In medicine, very few things can be made new again. They are merely patched up.

Age 45:
- There's still a very slim chance that you might pass for thirty years old, but most people will look "middle aged" by now.

Age 50:
- Few people will call you a "girl" or "young man" anymore.
- If you have a talent, fewer people will be impressed by it now. They might have been impressed when you were twenty years old, but at this age youíve had plenty of time to practise anything.
- If you speak a foreign language based on what you learnt at school, it will be probably be a version of the language from at least seventy years ago. Everyday speakers of that language will consider your manner of speaking archaic.
- You will probably have become long sighted recently.
- You might be completely grey haired by now. If you are female you may continue dying your hair to hide the fact. If you are male, you probably won't be that bothered (unless you live in the US). Men don't usually have the competence to dye their hair convincingly.
- If you ride a skateboard at this age, people will think you are an eccentric novelty. If you go surfing you will either look like someone's trying-to-be-cool dad or a drug-fuelled waster. You can no longer be cool.
- You will hear much younger people say that they feel really old, without them realising that it makes you feel even older.
- You will think that you know it all, because you are older than a lot of people. If a twenty year old comes up with a theory that contradicts what you think you know, you may dismiss them without giving them any consideration.
- A rock band made up of people your age will never get a record contract, unless you were massively famous when you were in your twenties, or you are a one off novelty. This isn't because you canít be good, but because no one will take a gamble on "old people".

Age 55:
- If you had children, they will have most likely left home by now, leaving you in a larger house than you need. Your house will appear quiet and empty because of it.
- Your memory will not be as good as it used to be. You will mis-remember things from say ten years ago, that a younger person will remember with clarity. However you will be convinced that your memory is perfect (although this might depend on your personality).
- Your friends will be gradually dying off from illnesses.
- If your parents are alive you may be facing the dilemma of whether to put them into care homes or not. If you decide not to, then you may spend a significant amount of your time caring for one or more of them.
- If you are female and not careful, you may end up spending a lot of your time caring for your husbandís parents. The caring role will get forced onto you, even by a nice husband.

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