Life Support: How to grow old gracefully

Essential skills for the modern world
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Get real

Despite what some of the media would have you believe, the slow decline of the flesh – and faculties – is as much of an issue for men as it is for women. Ageing affects everyone, and it is as distressing to see a middle-aged man desperately clinging to his lost youth as it is to see a woman who can't accept that her best years are behind her.

Dressing Appropriately – Women

The phrase "mutton dressed as lamb" haunts every woman, and I know plenty of youthful 25-year-olds who think that items such as floral playsuits are best left to gangly teenagers. While this may be a tad extreme, it highlights the fact that age-appropriate dressing is a constant worry. This is largely because any "rules" about dressing suitably – such as the myth that women over the age of 35 should not wear a skirt that falls above the knee – are completely arbitrary. Some people cannot pull off a biker jacket at 16, while others can still look fabulous in one at 60. A good rule of thumb is – if it feels too young for you, it probably is.

Dressing Appropriately – Men

Over the age of 30 men should try hard to shed the rebellious teen uniform of baggy jeans and band T-shirts. Other no-no's include: sportswear – unless actually engaging in physical activity –brightly coloured trainers and ripped jeans. Wearing any of these items over the age of 40 will make you look as if you are in the grip of a mid-life crisis (as does accessorising your outfit with a much younger girlfriend). At the other end of the sartorial spectrum is the suit, which works well on men of all ages, emphasising broad shoulders and hiding any middle-aged spread.

Adapt

As any scientist will tell you, adaptation is the key to survival. This is as true when it comes to tackling our individual decline as it is when battling an ice-age, and the precept applies to both behaviour and appearance. On the physical side of things, confront any age-related changes head on – but be sure to tread cautiously. Replacing your young self with an entirely unrecognisable one via the surgeon's knife – à la Joan Rivers – can be off-putting for friends and family. Men should under no circumstances attempt to counteract a receding hairline by growing their remaining hair long – a shaved head is infinitely preferable.

Embrace being a grown-up

You're probably more interesting, confident and clever now than you have ever been – so stop envying those spotty adolescents.

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