What does 70 look like, 2022?

As my seventieth birthday is a week away, I want to consider, what does seventy look like today?

It used to be the expected life span, and was often quoted as ‘three score years and ten’.  This actually appears I Psalm 90, verse 10. (I’m not religious, but did sing in a church choir as a child and teenager).

‘The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.’

At the beginning of the 1800’s the lifespan for people born in the UK, was forty, but on average it increased by two years each decade. So, in 1882, seventy years before my birth, it was fifty-six years.

Life has changed hugely over the last seventy years. Now, many women manage a home, children and a job, whereas in the fifties many married women didn’t work.

As employment opportunities changed, and many industries disappeared, people had to move from their place of birth to find work.  Those who went to study at university and college often stayed in the area where they had studied, rather than return home.

The way of life, where many generations of families lived and worked in the same village or town, has been lost. Due to the rise in cost of living and childcare, women who may have stayed at home in the past, now, whether they want to or not, have to work to help pay for the lives they want to live. Society has changed a great deal.

In 2019, the number of people aged seventy years and over increased by 24.7% to 9.0 million. So, there are a lot of us around!

Many people are continuing to work well past sixty-five, me included. Not at the same pace I worked at in my forties and fifties, but I still enjoy having a purpose in life and being able to support others.

What does a 70-year-old look like?

When I was a teenager, seventy-year-olds were ancient and often, purely considered as OAPs. Sadly, they often weren’t given the credit due to them for the lives they’d lived. By the time my mum was seventy she was retired, in fact, she retired at sixty-five. The way she looked was very different to many of the seventy-year olds I know now.

Mum, never wore jeans. She rarely wore trousers, always skirts and stockings, with court shoes, always, looking very smart. Her hair was always permed, although she never joined the ‘blue rinse brigade’. She had never been out of this country for a holiday. She had, what she considered to be, Christian values, although I would disagree with some of that – her intolerance of things she didn’t understand didn’t always match up to those values!

These days women dress how they choose. There is no, one style for mature women. When you read some articles, there are often a list of things you shouldn’t wear at sixty-five-plus, but, I’d argue if you are happy in what you wear, it’s your choice. “As long as you don’t scare the horses or the children” (Mrs. Patrick Campbell quote to Oscar Wilde).

Mature women of today, aren’t ready to give in to old age.

People are often surprised when I tell them my age. I don’t say this because I’m extremely glamourous, or dress incredibly, but I do think some of these things are helpful:

What impacts on aging for women?

  1. Posture – confidence. Self-confidence makes a huge difference to how you appear to others. If you are lacking confidence, you perhaps don’t stand as tall as you could. Standing tall, with your shoulders down, and your head held high, gives you a seemingly confident posture. Many of us slouch, because we sit at computers for so long each day, or sit in front of the TV, but how you stand says a lot about you.
  2. Skin – generally, our skin dries out as we get older. If like me you had fairly oily skin as a youngster, then that isn’t always a bad thing! However, if skin gets too dry, lines are more noticeable, so skin care is useful. Yet, I don’t really like the feel of oils and ‘stuff’ on my face, so I don’t have a regular regime. But, I’ve also never worn heavy make up on my skin each day, which I think can cause damage.
  3. Keep out of sun – my mum kept me out of the sun when I was small, because I do have fair skin. I burn very easily. It has actually been one of the best things she did for me, because people who spend too much time in the sun, and their skin isn’t ready for it, look older before their time. Their skin is dry, and often crinklier than if should be. I don’t sun-bathe – I find it boring sitting around in the sun. If I do sit outside, I wear a hat, or sit under an umbrella.
  4. Sleep – getting a good night’s sleep is important too to your whole well-being.
  5. Smiling – I smile every day without fail. I know it makes me feel good, because smiling releases endorphins into your body, which make you feel good. I look much younger when I smile, compared to seeing my serious face, so I’ll keep doing it!
  6. Attitude – retaining a young outlook on life, mixing with people from all ages and being aware and showing an interesting in what is going on around you helps you have an attitude where you are not seen as old.

Two mature women I admire for who they are, not for what they look like are Judi Dench, and Miriam Margolyes. Both in the field of acting and theatre, and both in their eighties, and both, fascinating women. Neither fall into the glamour category that often their US counterparts tend to aim towards. What they both have are amazing personalities, they know what they want from life, and go for it. I’d love to have a conversation with either of them.