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The Perennials: New report finds Britons are "overwhelmingly negative" about growing older

A new global study by Ipsos MORI explores attitudes to ageing and later life across 30 countries.

'The Perennials', a study carried out in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, reveals that just three in ten (30%) UK adults say they are looking forward to later life. Half (50%) say they worry about getting old. 

A report published today reveals that many Britons are "overwhelmingly negative" about ageing. Ipsos MORI’s global study, conducted in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, illustrates attitudes to ageing across 30 countries and shows that just 30% of UK adults say they are "looking forward to getting old".

Data included in the report shows that only 38% of people in the UK expect to be fit and healthy in later life, while nearly a third (31%) say they are concerned about losing their mobility as they age.

The study also shows that 50% of UK adults say they worry about getting old and a quarter (28%) feel that TV, film and advertising make later life seem "depressing, with limited opportunities". 

Suzanne Hall, Director at Ipsos MORI, said:

"The growth of the ageing population is one of our greatest achievements. However, it also presents society, business and brands with significant challenges as well.

"Our research shows that, globally, there is a great deal of negativity towards later life, with financial and health concerns prevalent. Feeding into this negativity is a sense that the media does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential. It is therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’ and ‘unfairly treated’ along with ‘wise’.

"There are reasons for optimism, however. More people globally have faith in the power of technology to improve the lives of the elderly. People also tend to think that there are things that they can do to ensure they are prepared for old age – though there is a gap between what we know we should be doing, and what we are doing in practice. Later life should be our golden years – but there is clearly much work to be done for this time in our life to be seen as such."

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said:

"There are tremendous opportunities that come from longer lives, yet just one in three people worldwide say they are looking forward to their old age. This is perhaps not surprising given the prevailing narrative across the globe is one of decline, frailty, ill-health and loneliness. 

"These negative experiences are not inevitable. We must improve our workplaces, our housing, our health and our communities to enable more of us to age well. Changing our own and society’s attitudes to later life is an essential first step."

The full report can be found at Ipsos MORI.