Tuesday, 30 August 2011

50 is the new 70

Down the road from my house there's a billboard advertising sheltered housing. 'Independent Living For The Over 55s' it says, alongside a photo of a smiling, middle-class 55-year-old woman and an almost identical smiling, middle-class 85-year-old woman. It's not clear which one of them is plotting to put the other one away.

There's a new charity called Age UK, which used to be Age Concern and Help the Aged. They've got a charity shop in my high street, full of patronising books telling me how to keep fit and use the computer. They say they offer 'a wide range of products and services, designed with the over-50s in mind.'

I ought to be grateful, I suppose, that I am no longer considered 'aged' (although the Age UK website - which is full of photos of people who could be my grandparents - does still use the word 'elderly'). But who decided that people over 50 are now categorised as old?

I'm not 55, by the way. But it's only a few years away. Do I then suddenly become part of a new demographic? The one that goes on until I die? Do I suddenly become frail in mind and body and need people to look after me and tell me how to use the internet?

This makes no sense whatsoever. The government has decided that I can't retire until I'm 66. That's more than ten years from this spurious year zero of 55. And there's every chance that just when I do get to 66 they'll move the goalposts again. Or that I won't be able to afford to retire even if I'm allowed to.

It's not so long ago we were being told (and this is equally patronising in its own way) that '60 is the new 40'. It's starting to look now as if that is suddenly the other way round.

No comments:

Post a Comment