Coming of Age: The Warning Signs That You're Turning 50

Man blowing out candles on 50th birthday

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The Warning Signs That You're Turning 50

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Were you surprised to find out you're now on AARP's mailing list? Are you getting unexpected senior discounts, and do you have a growing desire to be home on weeknights? Guess what: Your 50s have crept up on you. (Weren't we in our 20s just yesterday?) Here's a playful romp through the telltale signs that you're inching — careening? — toward your golden years.  

senior woman mask movie theater

1. You're Given the Senior Discount on Sight

The first time this happens, it's gut-wrenching: A 20-something selling tickets at the movies glances up and gives you the senior discount, even though you're a few years shy of the official threshold. But then you realize, "Hey, I am saving money," and it's not so bad.  

You Get Mail From AARP

2. You Get Mail From AARP

Again, the first time it happens, you cringe. Mail from AARP? What, am I, 70? They start their pitch early. But again, you just might appreciate the savings — even if your voice still drops to a whisper when asking, "Do you offer an AARP discount?"

You Ask for Help With Electronics

3. You Ask for Help With Electronics

You were a whiz on the electric typewriter. College papers were a breeze. Today, you can still type at quite a clip — but you sometimes need an assist when it comes to downloading music, buying an app, or other tasks that seem to come naturally to younger generations.  

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You Use Outdated Phrases

4. You Use Outdated Phrases

You say that you have to wash your "blue jeans" instead of just saying "jeans." Or you say a dance move is really "hip." You remember how awkward your parents sounded when using their old-fashioned phrases? Exactly.

You’ve Found Yourself Yelling ‘Slow Down’

5. You've Found Yourself Yelling 'Slow Down'

Your street isn't the Autobahn. You're out in your front yard, and a car filled with teens flies past. Remember how your dad used to shout, "Slow down"? Yep, that was you doing the exact same thing. 

Related: How to Stay Safe From Road Rage, Including Your Own

Neighbors Can Be Hostile

6. You Have Become the Nosy Neighbor

Gladys Kravitz of "Bewitched" has nothing on you. Your favorite place in your house is at the window, peeking out from behind the curtain. You need to know what's going on in your neighborhood — morning, noon, and night — don't you?

Stream at Home
Milan Markovic/istockphoto

7. Your Favorite TV Networks Change

HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax used to be your go-to networks. Now, you realize you just spent an entire evening enjoying vintage sitcoms on Antenna TV, or a classic film on AMC.  

You Still Rock ... Even If It's to an '80s Band

8. You Still Rock … With ’80s Bands

Sure, you're a huge music fan. But suddenly it hits you: You only listen to the bands of your younger days. But what's wrong with Bruce Springsteen, right?  

outdoor concert

9. You Attend Fewer Concerts

Forget road trips to arenas and catching local bands until 3 a.m. You've seen all the big reunion tours. And you really — we mean really — appreciate when they play on the weekends, start early, and keep it a reasonable volume.

You Don't Mind Eating In

10. You Don’t Mind Eating In

So, your spouse suggests skipping this week's trip to a local restaurant. You don't think twice, because that means not only some extra pocket money but also no dressing up and no circling around looking for a parking spot.  

Andrew McCarthy
Rob Kim/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images North America

11. Your Celebrity Crush Is Still Andrew McCarthy

You can totally relate to your daughter's daydreaming about the latest celebrity — been there, done that. You agree with her that Chris Hemsworth is a handsome guy. She doesn't really need to know that Andrew McCarthy still makes your heart skip a beat, does she?

Wearing Pajamas
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

12. You Have Been Spotted Out and About — In PJs

You've decided that running to the corner deli for a quart of milk or a dozen eggs for breakfast doesn't mean you have to get fully dressed. Your younger self would likely shake his or her head to think one day you'd be in public in pajamas under that coat. 

You Let Your Thoughts Our

13. You Let Your Thoughts Out … Loudly

The time to be quiet is long gone. As they say, filters fade with age. The people pleaser has left the building. You know your own mind — and you're not afraid to ruffle a few feathers by saying exactly what you feel.

You Crave Childhood Treats

14. You Crave Childhood Treats

You have had entire conversations, often with your brothers or sisters, about favorite dishes from childhood. Remember that special cake from the bakery that closed when you were away at college, or that crazy sundae you got at the local ice-cream stand? Food memories are powerful. 

Related: Relive Your Childhood By Making These 13 Classic Ice Cream Truck Treats

You Sit – a Lot – More

15. You Sit (a Lot) More

"Pass me that (whatever)." You find that, more and more, you're content to simply stay put. You sat down without getting a glass of water? It can wait.

You Take – Much – Longer to Get Up

16. You Take (Much) Longer To Get Up

Getting up from the couch — or, heaven help you, the floor where you were leaning on a pillow — is a bit of a production. It might be funny to watch, but it's not fun when you're in the middle of it.  

You Actually Know What Probiotics Are
Take Advantage of Libraries

18. You've Become a Regular at the Library

Buy a magazine or book? You can go to the library and get it all for free — when its not closed due to the pandemic — and it's a great place to spend a little time in an easy chair, hear a performance, or take in a class or art show. Were these amazing places always here?  

You Consider Life Insurance, Often

19. You Consider Life Insurance, Often

When you had, potentially, 60 years ahead of you, things like life insurance were a snore — something for old fogies (there's one of those phrases again). Now, you worry about providing for your loved ones.  

You Realize You Should Exercise

20. You Realize You Should Exercise

How many times can you hear about the importance of exercise and still ignore that you have to take care of yourself? With the onset of a few random pains and strains, you've actually started a regime to try to avoid any serious issues. 

Related: 20 Essential Exercises for Older Adults

You Hate Crowds, All Crowds

21. You Hate Crowds — All Crowds

From the mall during the holiday season to the supermarket before a snowstorm, places where there are tons of people — pushy, annoying people — are not for you. You have lost your patience for this and would rather run your errands when you have the time and the places are less crowded. It's all enough to make you a fan of social distancing.  

You've Been Known To Say 'When I Was Your Age...'

22. You've Been Known To Say 'When I Was Your Age …'

It used to drive you crazy when your elders compared what you were up to with what they did at your age ... and now, you're doing the same thing. So much of aging is about revelations — and one is that we're all part of a big cycle that repeats itself every generation, right? 

Related: 26 Pieces of Advice from Seniors to Millennials

You Are No Longer About Trends

23. You Are No Longer About Trends

Still loving last season's pant length? Hey, if it looks nice on you — and the price is right — you have been known to continue buying and wearing it. Getting older includes knowing what fashions work for you and having the confidence to create your own "look," rather than blindly chase the latest (and sometimes downright ugly) trends.  

You Embrace Your Looks

24. You Embrace Your Looks

For how many years did you hate your stick-straight hair, your beauty mark, or your chicken legs? Then one day you realized each one of us is special, and this is who you are. It's a much easier way to go through this life.

You Talk to Yourself

25. You Talk to Yourself

Grandma used to have entire conversations with herself. You'd hear her from the other room when you knew she was alone. More and more, you're doing the same, from "Where did I put those keys?" to "Now, that was a good cup of coffee." As long as you don't answer yourself, we say you're okay.

You Are Lost Without Your Readers

26. You're Lost Without Your Readers

The daily paper is a bit of a blur — not because you gloss over the news but because you can't see the words without your reading glasses. You combat the issue with a pair for every room of your house, plus a spare for work.

You Still Own a VCR or DVD Player

27. You Still Own a VCR or DVD Player

Nothing like settling in and cueing up a movie on the ol' VCR or DVD player. Sure, there's that thing called streaming — but do those services have a personal library like yours, developed over decades? Just pray these devices never break down.

You Most Always Opt for Comfort Over Sexy

28. You Opt for Comfortable Over Sexy

Leggings and a big sweater pretty much get you through life. You are usually primped and presentable, but you've lost that urge to go the extra mile if it's not a special occasion. It's actually relaxing. 

Related: Stores With Comfortable Clothes That Last for Years

You've Become More Spiritual

29. You've Become More Spiritual

No one lives forever, and while you're not morbid, you do think more about all things spiritual. You also think more about your fellow humans — and try to make the world a better place, instead of just a better place for you.  

You Forget at Least One Thing Every Day

30. You Forget at Least One Thing Every Day

So you make up lists. Lots of them, 'cause you forget things. ... What was I just saying?

You Send Greeting Cards

31. You Send Greeting Cards

Hallmark, Target, or the indie shop downtown — wherever you see greeting cards, you stop. E-cards will never do it for you. You still treasure cards and letters you've received, so you want to pass the experience along, creating memories for your friends and family.

You Enjoy Quiet Time With Family

32. You Enjoy Quiet Time With Family

Speaking of family, you realize — after all those teenage years of sassing your mom or rolling your eyes at Dad's "jokes" — that family is pretty important. And if you're lucky enough to have your own family now, you work to make the bond strong.

You Pack Your Lunch

33. You Pack Your Lunch

Glance around most jobs. The younger employees run out to lunch, socializing and spending without a second thought. The older workers pull out what they've packed from home. It's money, it's time, it's just the way it goes.  

Timothée Chalamet
Timothée Chalamet by Nine Stars (CC BY)

34. You Have No Idea Who Anybody Is Ever Talking About

His name is what? Teem-o-tay? And Olivia Rod-rig-who? There's some big, bad bunny rabbit that everybody's talking about too? And who is this Glen Powell guy? The star of "Saltburn" is named WHAT? And while we're on the subject, what even is "Saltburn?" Is that a character's name? Didn't even know you could get burned from salt.

If these are the types of thoughts that plague you, 50 can't be too far away.

You Can't Get Over How Quickly Time Passes

35. You Can't Get Over How Quickly Time Passes

How often did your dad say, "I can't believe it's already Christmas again"? Um, yes, days turn to months, but wow, time does fly. You yourself have zipped along from a 20-something know-it-all to a 50-something — who actually does know a thing or two. CONGRATULATIONS!!! 

Related: 23 Ways to Age Well on a Shoestring