Middle and old age are traditionally seen as times of conformity, responsibility, risk aversion and settling down. Yet instead of retiring with pipe and slippers to listen to the classics, many of the new old are still pursuing the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle of their youth. The National Council on Aging claims 61 percent of all 60-somethings today are still sexually active. And singles 55 and older are the fastest growing group of online daters. Meanwhile, the rate of 50-somethings' illicit drug use rose more than 70 percent during 2002-08; marijuana is now more prevalent with them than with any other age group. Four million Americans age 50 or older are estimated to have used at least one drug illicitly in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's "National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2009."
What about rock 'n' roll? Two-thirds of over 50s listen to rock more than any other genre, according to the Pew Research Center. And Recording Industry Association of America data show that over 40s are the only age group whose music purchasing has risen in the last decade. The new old are pursuing other adolescent activities, too. A quarter of Americans over 50 play video games -- up almost threefold since 1999 -- and the average "frequent game purchaser" is 39-years-old, according to the Entertainment Software Association. The average motorcyclist is 47-years-old, according to J.D. Power and Associates, and other Pew Research Center data show that three-quarters of baby boomers own cellphones and nearly a third have created a social networking profile.