Centre for Ageing Better
25 Sep 2019
Our Director of Communications and Influencing, Louise Ansari, talks us through the inspiration behind her new book, When We're 64, and how you can use it to help plan for a good later life.
I’ll be 64 in 12 years’ time. When I try to imagine what being 64 might be like, I can’t quite land on it. Nothing is predictable. In fact, the only surety is that things will change – and probably not in the way I imagine.
My diet of science fiction comics as a little girl instilled in me the belief that by now we’d already be living on moon bases and travelling by jet pack. Instead we have the unpredicted and perhaps more unbelievable reality that almost all the knowledge in the world is at our fingertips via smartphones, and that cars can now drive themselves.
Despite our inability to accurately see into the future, most of us have aspirations for our later lives. And of course it’s not the specific age of 64 that matters – the question is how can we plan for every year and decade beyond middle age and take advantage of the great increases in longevity that better health and living conditions have given the population of the UK – and every other country on the globe?
When we ask people about what they’d like to do with their later lives they say they want some pretty fundamental things: good health, financial security, to have good relationships with friends and family and live in a home they feel safe and warm in, in an area they like.
But they are worried about a deterioration in both their physical and mental ability to work, get around, and do the hobbies and pastimes they love, as well as having enough money to get by or deal with unexpected events like having to pay for care.
Personally, I would like to have good enough health and a good enough income to carry on gardening, writing and do some travelling – the list of desirable destinations never seems to get shorter!
And that’s where ‘When We’re 64 – your guide to a great later life’ comes in.
We know that many of the factors mentioned above – having good health, being able to work for longer and save more, having meaning and purpose in life, and a good home – need structural change in the work, housing and health systems.
But there’s a lot we can do ourselves too. With huge amounts of help from colleagues and generous contributors, this book has advice and examples of what you can do across all these areas, from volunteering in your local community to adapting your home. I learnt a lot in the process of writing it and gained deep and detailed insight talking to experts and ordinary people about their experience.
And whilst ten chapters’ worth of advice and facts might seem daunting, taking small steps – like putting a bit more into your pension every month or doing a couple of sessions of strength and balance exercise a week – could have huge benefits when you get older.
If you know someone who, as the years suddenly seem to start to fly past, could do with a small boost in planning, or who just wants an entertaining read about how to prepare for getting older, check out When We’re 64 – it could help make those later years some of the best of their life!