Learning to Love Later Life
Increasing numbers of people around the world are living to reach the age of 100, with estimates indicating that worldwide the figure is around 300,000. Western Europe is actually storming ahead of the United States in this regard, possibly due to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
UK Life Expectancy
According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been a 73% rise in the number of UK citizens reaching the age of 100 in the past decade, and figures for 2012 show the average life expectancy in the UK is now 81.5 years. Since 1980, life expectancy for men has increased by 2.5 years per decade, while for women it has increased by the slightly lesser amount of 2 years per decade.
In fact, if the current trend continues, then a staggering one out of every three babies born in 2013 can expect to reach the age of 100, making for a very different structure to society and the way we define the term ‘elderly’. The figures obviously raise a number of concerns regarding health and finances for the older members of society, but around three-quarters of adults claim to look forward to the prospect of living longer than previous generations.
Older people are said to be keen to ‘seize the moment’ and celebrate the prospect of greatly increased longevity, not least the opportunity of receiving a personalised letter from the reigning monarch as part of their centenary birthday celebrations. In fact, Her Majesty apparently currently distributes 12,320 of these birthday messages and will clearly need to set aside extra time in the future to cope with increasing demand.
Love Later life
The ‘Love Later Life’ campaign has been initiated by Age UK in an attempt to make people aware of the need to provide fulfilling and enriching experiences for the elderly. According to their research, over 90% of adults believe that society needs to make changes to its perception of the elderly and how they should be treated, with a particular onus on care homes to provide appropriate facilities and activities.
The organisation is calling upon care homes to ensure that older people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve in order to create the best and most appropriate environment for their residents. They urge care homes to ensure that they keep up to date with contemporary society and strive at all times to maintain the very highest standards of care.
Investing in appropriate training for staff and in modern technology for residents will help to facilitate an increasingly ageing population to remain independent, current and in touch with the wider world. Research continually proves that participating in activities which challenge and stimulate the mind can dramatically help mental function well into old age. With more of us heading toward a longer old age, it makes good sense to ensure that we should all benefit from the highest standards of care, with days filled with engaging, entertaining and stimulating activities to keep us mentally alert.