Indeed, the sight of an old lady going about her daily routine is common to towns and cities across the country.

But look closely and you'll see there is something very different about these scenes - for the "elderly" woman is in fact Page 3 girl Peta Todd, 24, who agreed to be disguised as an 80-year-old for a Sun investigation to experience how Britain treats its senior citizens.

Beauty ... Peta

Alison Webster / The Sun

A recent report suggested that our ten million people of 65 and over are being failed, with around 1.8million in poverty.

And according to the Health Service Ombudsman, the NHS is failing to provide the most basic standards of care for older people. Around 18 per cent of complaints to the watchdog last year related to the elderly.

New age ... Peta gets make-up to look elderly

Stewart Williams / The Sun

The Southern Cross care home company closure has left around 31,000 vulnerable elderly residents in fear of losing their homes, while the charity Age UK believes two million over-65s suffer depression. Another study found 60 per cent of the elderly reported facing age discrimination.

Disturbed by the apparent neglect of Britain's old folk, The Sun's Peta, took to the streets of Islington, North London, dressed and made up as a grandma. The transformation, with specialist latex make-up to give realistic wrinkles, took four hours. Here she tells how she got on.

At the cafe

Stewart Williams / The Sun

I love a coffee to kick-start my day and decided to see how Granny Todd would be treated in a busy café - the result was quite shocking.

At the counter I dropped my money on the floor and although I was clearly struggling with my walking stick, no one offered to help me pick up the coins. So I bent down and got them myself.

When it was my turn to order I asked if I could have the coffee outside.

As I had a shopping trolley to cope with, I expected the staff member would take the cup to my table but instead they just handed it over the counter.

As I fumbled with my purse, trolley and stick, I ended up burning my hand on the coffee.

Both the staff and customers could see I could have done with a bit of help but no one stepped forward to do the decent thing.

It was disappointing because when I'm out in cafés or bars I don't have any such problem.

At the market

Stewart Williams / The Sun

THe first market stall owner I encountered was very chirpy and called me "Beautiful" and "Baby". But if I'd really been an old lady I don't think I would have appreciated that.

Even so, he was friendly and asked me if I wanted a bag for my bananas - unlike the woman at the second stall, who was much less helpful.

When I asked for a bag she said I didn't need one. Normally I wouldn't be refused or if I was, I would demand better service. I felt that was rude and certainly contrasted with the way I am used to being treated.

It felt very strange to be stepping out as Granny Todd, wearing a floral skirt, grey wig and a string of pearls. Obviously it's a world away from my usual wardrobe and dress sense.

But walking through crowds of people I didn't see anyone doing a double take. That was quite odd because, like most young women, I'm used to a bit of attention when I go out.

Mobile phone shop

Stewart Williams / The Sun

I heard from the charity Age UK that older people often have problems in mobile phone shops.

Usually my experience of High Street stores is very positive. But as Granny Todd, it was entirely different from what I'm used to.

I went into Carphone Warehouse and spent several minutes browsing. There were five assistants on duty, some serving customers but others doing nothing.

I waited and waited for one to approach with an offer of help but none came. Eventually I got fed up and walked out, disgusted.

It's a horrible feeling to be ignored - it makes you paranoid about why they are behaving that way. Lots of elderly people have mobile phones and they don't deserve to be passed over by inconsiderate staff.

I felt like I was a nobody whose custom didn't matter.

On the street

Stewart Williams / The Sun

When I'm shopping people make an effort to hold doors open or let me go first on a packed pavement.

Sadly, few did so for Granny Todd. I felt invisible, even though I was brightly dressed and pulling a large shopping trolley.

There were swarms of smiling charity fundraisers descending on young people but although I walked past them several times they looked right through me.

Outside a busy row of shops I decided to drop my stick to see the reaction from pedestrians.

Some schoolkids went "Aah" and hurried to fetch it, while a lady in her 30s saw what had happened and actually took a few steps back to pick it up for me.

I was glad to see people are willing to help when the need is obvious - but perhaps it's the unprompted offers of help that older people appreciate most.

Crossing the road

Stewart Williams / The Sun

As I drove to Islington in Granny Todd make-up, I noticed fewer drivers letting me out at junctions.

Blokes in general are courteous to young women on the road but I was treated differently - and this attitude was evident in the way men reacted to me as a pedestrian too.

Women seemed more aware there was a frail lady with a walking stick trying to get around.

Men were more ignorant and pushed past without so much as an "Excuse me".

It felt strange, as it's the opposite of what I'm used to. In normal life it's often women who brush past and it's the men who take time to show a bit of chivalry.

When I was crossing the road I tried to look like I needed help.

Eventually a nice young man did help me across. Hats off to him, he was the only one.

Verdict: I became invisible

My day as Granny Todd was a huge contrast to how I am usually treated. I was invisible - but I wasn't surprised by the response.

People are busy and wrapped up in their own worlds without the time or wish to consider what the elderly are going through.

I imagine if I experienced that every day I'd feel quite lonely. This has certainly made me more aware of old people's feelings and needs.

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