Centre for Ageing Better
28 Mar 2019
Whilst blogger Joyce Williams is delighted that old age is the happiest period of life, she thinks that there are still lots of challenges to overcome to ensure that everyone enjoys a fulfilling later life.
This report is about The State of Ageing in 2019.
My question to you is this: “What would you like to see in the equivalent reports for 2029, 2039 and 2049?"
I was delighted to see that this year’s version contains some excellent news.
Firstly, there will be far more old people in the future. The numbers are growing rapidly. Medical and social progress has been amazing in my lifetime. Fit, active, bonus years for us all. More than half fully independent well into their 80s.
Secondly, surveys are showing that old age is the happiest period of life. A time when people are most contented with life.
Thirdly, the current generation of 75+ are survivors of hard times. They made it through the war and rationing, the appalling housing shortage which followed and the workhouse poverty that affected many people in later life. A tough lot, they have saved and scrimped for years to get a home and fought hard battles for decent pensions, the NHS and a good education for all.
As the report shows, they made it! They challenged everything and changed our world for us.
Now they are giving back. Free childcare so daughters can work, volunteering in the community and performing unpaid caring for older relatives.
Now for the bad news. The news that affects you.
Many people in younger generations have yet to catch up with what has happened! The idea of bonus years of life hasn’t dawned. Nor has the understanding of the battles we had to fight to create them.
Worse, the stereotypical image of historic old age lingers on. The equation ‘Young is Good therefore Old is Bad’ is, contrary to all evidence, still around. Unthinking ageism continues.
And the result is this:
People over 50 who wish to work cannot get jobs; there are a million people aged between 50 and the State Pension Age who are out of work but want to have a job. Ageism rules the workplace; it must stop.
And then there is the risk that the NHS is facing a future catastrophe. Not from people now in their 70s and 80s, but from the increasing levels of obesity and unfitness in the coming generations.
These are the challenges for your generation, those people in their 50s and 60s today. These are what you must tackle if you are to maintain the ground we gained for you.