Thanks be, but it turns out that it’s not all downhill once you hit 50. Bits may be sagging but you’re better at sex. That has to count for something, right? Here’s what else improves:
After the age of 50 we tend to be less affected by seasonal allergies such as hay fever. This is partly because as we age, we produce less of the allergic antibody IgE which triggers the reaction.
As Dr Adrian Morris, of the Surrey Allergy Clinic, explains: ‘In allergic people, IgE levels rise through childhood, then stabilise in the late teens to 30s, and start to drop through the 40s and 50s. So by the 60s and 70s, the allergic reaction is less severe.
‘The bulk of my patients are children and young adults — older patients with allergy-like symptoms often have a non allergic cause, such as smoking, medication, weather changes and infections.’
However, severe sensitivities (for instance, to peanuts) are less likely to diminish, adds Lindsey McManus, of Allergy UK.
Some studies show as many as 40 percent of women who suffer migraines no longer have attacks by the age of 65.
With many, it’s the menopause that makes the difference, according to Migraine Action: 67 percent of women find their migraines stop or improve significantly afterwards. This is because levels of oestrogen drop, and oestrogen is a very common migraine trigger.
Unfortunately, male migraine sufferers can expect no such respite with age.
As we age, our sweat (eccrine) glands begin to shrink and become less sensitive, so you could economise on deodorant.
A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that women aged 52 to 62 sweated less than those aged 20 to 30, which they put down to ‘a diminished response of the sweat glands to central and/or peripheral stimuli’ and ‘an age-related structural alteration in the eccrine glands or surrounding skin cells’.
Many of us think hard-edged competitiveness is a young person’s game, but a recent study at the University of Oregon found older men are far more so.
When volunteers were offered a cash prize if they could do simple maths puzzles more quickly than a rival, 70 per cent of men aged 45 to 54 leapt at the chance compared to just 50 per cent of men aged 25 to 34.
The researchers suggested older men may have a greater drive for social dominance because by middle age, men expect to have attained a certain level of success and, therefore, feel the need to demonstrate this success through competition.
Women showed a similar pattern of competitiveness, but their willingness to challenge others was consistently lower than men’s.
With age, a drop in inhibitions means many older people report more enjoyable sex after 50.
A National Council on Ageing survey found that of people aged 60 and over who had regular intercourse, 74 per cent of the men and 70 per cent of the women had more satisfying sex lives than in their 40s.
Although the menopause is often linked to a drop in libido, some experts believe a woman’s sex life can improve.
For many, orgasm becomes easier with age, according to research by Dr Debby Herbenick, a lecturer in applied health science at Indiana University.
‘While 61 percent of women aged 18 to 24 experienced orgasm the last time they had sex, 65 per cent of women in their 30s did and about 70 per cent in their 40s and 50s,’ she says.
She believes that as women become more sexually experienced, they have more confidence and, therefore, enjoy themselves more.
And men don’t do too badly, either.
A 2008 study in the British Medical Journal found that an increasing number of 70-year-olds are having good sex and more often.
Older people have sharper minds >>