I'm 60. Do I have to act my age?

Have you ever felt embarrassed for a friend? Sinking through the floor for her because she made a fool of herself? Perhaps too much to drink? Maybe flirting with the teenagers, talking too much, too loud, swearing and being coarse, telling dirty jokes?

I well recall a party, when an older lady, a friend, passed out. We all helped her up, fussed with the glass of water and cool cloth to the forehead pretending that she had been taken ill. We were polite, nothing was said, but we all knew that she’d had too much to drink; she was falling-down drunk!

There is an expectation that the older lady will automatically know how to behave. She will be gracious, polite and display good manners. Genuine good manners have nothing to do with where to put your knife and fork, or whether you say toilet or lavatory. Genuine good manners are about being considerate.

  • Never belittle others or be hurtful.
  • Help others feel comfortable and at ease.
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  • Always show respect and kindness — don’t act as though someone is uninteresting or beneath you.
  • Be punctual. Lateness suggests that the other person’s time is not important.
  • Following hospitality, a “thank you” email or text will be appreciated — not to mention a bunch of flowers or box of chocolates. Compliment the cook.
  • Feel free to introduce yourself if necessary.

    “My name is Margaret and I’m pleased to meet you,” and feel free to say “I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name”. I was once on my way to a party and the host’s name (I’d never met him) was Laurence. I was worried I’d forget. My friend suggested that I make the association with Laurence of Arabia. Well, I didn’t wait to be introduced, just greeted the host — “Hello Peter”. Why? I made an association between Laurence of Arabia and the actor Peter O’Toole who portrayed Laurence of Arabia in the film of the same name!

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    When in conversation, don’t bore others with endless talk about yourself and your family and people they don’t know. Ask them about themselves, their family. Listen and follow the conversation.

    Try not to interrupt mid-sentence. Don’t begin speaking as you approach a group who are tete-a-tete.

    Rise above the bad manners of bad-mannered people.

    Don’t show your age by falling into the habits so-called characteristics of older people. Try not to mention your age, as this is considered to be fishing for compliments. Boasting about how remarkable you are for your age displays self-absorption.

    Keep conversations about health and illness short. Change the subject when you get the chance. One common characteristic of women old and young, is our penchant for making excuses for why we can’t do things differently. As we age, this characteristic morphs into being set in our ways.

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    At the table

    Take drinks out of a glass, not straight from the bottle or can.

    Use a serviette and dab your mouth and chin frequently. The older we get, the more likely we are to have food on our face and not realise.

    Do not blow your nose on a paper serviette at the table. Use that handkerchief which is tucked in your bra cup, pocket, sleeve or handbag.

    Be a beautiful person

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    Take care not to gossip.

    Coarse language and behaviour is not becoming at any age.

    When in company, turn off your mobile phone.

    Never discuss personal financial affairs and take care discussing religion, sex and politics.

    Be loyal when speaking of family members.

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    Give compliments freely and accept compliments with grace.

    Always give the benefit of the doubt.

    We are a relaxed society in Australia and formality is not our style, but after age 60, a little dignity, a little savoir faire and a smiling face will guarantee that you are acting your age.

    How do you feel about ‘acting your age’? Share your thoughts with us.

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