'When you look at somebody like Helen Mirren ... she has some wrinkles on her face, she has character in her face.'

London - Reaching your fifties was once a landmark to dread.

But now you can get half-way through them before even hitting middle age, according to a survey.

And old age doesn’t set in until you are 70. On average, adults believe they are young until at least their mid-50s, the research showed.

It suggests that as the population ages, attitudes are changing, and many of us continue to feel younger than our years would traditionally have indicated.

And although many of us will retire later than our parents, we will feel younger for longer.

There are now more over-65s in Britain than under-16s, according to official figures.

And the survey of 1,000 adults aged over 50 found seven out of ten people in their early 50s defined themselves as middle-aged.

The average age at which middle age was perceived to start was 54 years and 347 days.

But nearly one in five thought middle age did not begin until after 60.

And a similar amount –19 percent – said that middle age was a state of mind, rather than something that begins at a certain point.

The survey also asked at what age middle age comes to an end, with the average answer being 69 years and 277 days.

This suggests middle age goes well beyond the state pension age.

Celebrities who fall into this category include Helen Mirren, 67, Stephen Fry, 55, Alan Titchmarsh, 63 and Jerry Hall, 56.

Fifty-somethings were generally upbeat about being that age, the research found.

Gill Jackson, director of the Love to Learn online learning website, which carried out the survey, said: “More than half said they have more confidence and experience than younger people and are less afraid of making mistakes.”

TV presenter John Craven, who is supporting the website’s launch, said the concept of ageing had changed.

“Only a generation ago, many people were pretty old at 60”, he said.

“These days most of us in our middle and later years are much younger in our attitudes and it’s all about having an active state of mind.” - Daily Mail