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The new middle age: Over 70’s are more active than ever

Watching Helen Mirren walk down a red carpet is a delight – self-confident, generous with her time and oozing charisma, she’s every inch the movie star, who has clearly loved and enjoyed every minute of her life.

And, she joins a host of stars which include; Bette Midler, Debbie Harry, Joanna Lumley, Mia Farrow and Bianca Jagger  – to name but a few – who embody the idea that 70 is the new middle age and women approaching their forties, fifties and sixties are mere youngsters.

At 71 years young, the British Golden Globe, Academy Award and Emmy winner shows no signs of slowing down and clearly lives her life to the full and on her own terms.

When asked by Lumity at an amfAR charity event in Cannes last May what her beauty secret is, Mirren laughed, shrugged her shoulders and exclaimed nonchalantly with the air of someone who has been asked that question too many times before: “Oh I don’t know! – A glass of champagne!” before adding, “And doing what I want, when I want.”

Dressed in head-to-toe Temperly London, and having just attended every single party on offer during the fifteen day film festival extravaganza, Mirren is certainly an inspiration for how to rock your age.

All very well for these A-list glamazons, but we wanted to know what hitting middle age and beyond is like for women who haven’t got movie star sized bank accounts, and don’t have gigantic hair, beauty and wardrobe budgets at their disposal?

Shelagh talks about how 70 is the new middle age
Shelagh, 80, says getting older is fantastic: “I’m not sure that age gives wisdom, but what it does do is give you freedom to choose what you want to do, and stick up for what you believe to be right.”


Shelagh Hemelryk, who is 80 and lives in Nottinghamshire (pictured above) tells Lumity that the best thing about being older is you gain the confidence to stop worrying about what other people think:

“Getting older comes upon you gradually and suddenly you realise that you’ve reached an age which may be described as old. Are there advantages? Well yes, perhaps, as long as you can ignore the odd aches and pains. But that’s the point really. The more you can continue to do the less you notice such things. For me the advantages are that you don’t worry too much about what other people think of you, though I would add to that you value those friends you have had for many years. Also, I find I can talk to people in tubes and on buses, men and women, and have a great deal of fun doing so.

“Personally, I’m not sure that age gives wisdom, but what it does do is give you freedom to choose what you want to do, and stick up for what you believe to be right. I am lucky to still be healthy, still have the chance to do some professional acting, but less worried if I don’t get a part I audition for.

“I have also started volunteering for the local National Trust for more opportunities for new challenges. Family is vitally important and their company is very precious. So, as long as I can, I shall enjoy life and being with and meeting other people. Frankly, I think as long as you keep your self-confidence, ‘age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese’…”

And, Clemmie Simmonds, 70, from Bristol, agrees that life gets better as we get older and says age is all a case of mind over matter:

“It makes me laugh when I hear women say they’re getting old when they talk about their forties or fifties approaching and being worried about it,” Clemmie says. “There’s nothing to fear – it’s a wonderful time and they’ll soon find that they embrace it and wonder what they were fretting about.

“They’re the best decades of your life because you win the confidence to really live life to the full and see each day as a gift. You appreciate the important things like lifelong friendships and family and start to wonder why you wasted so much time lying awake churning over worries about silly, insignificant things like money or thoughtless things your idiot boss has said at work in years gone by.

“Since retiring from work, I have thrown myself into new hobbies, I’ve met lots of new people and I do Pilates every week with people in their teens, twenties and thirties.

“For my 80th birthday I’m going to do a skydive for charity. Seventy is definitely the new middle age, you learn to cope with the death of loved ones because you understand that whilst sad, death is a very natural end to life, and as a result you become fearless and live life with a vigour and energy that I never imagined would be possible thirty years ago.

“I don’t feel old – I’m not sure I ever will – and I appreciate the little things. Perhaps that’s the key to enjoying life and being happy at any age.”

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