Some Initial Thoughts
A view of life
As you get older things start to change, and sometimes this isn’t what we’d planned. We can start to become infirm and need more care, and it’s important that we have someone to look after us.
“As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.”
Sir Norman Wisdom
Ageing and health
WHO defines healthy ageing as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.” Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value.
People worldwide are living longer. Today most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. Every country in the world is experiencing growth in both the size and the proportion of older persons in the population.
- Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%.
- By 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older will outnumber children - younger than 5 years.
In 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past. All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift.
Facts about healthy ageing
68.5 is the average age for a heart bypass operation
68 years old is the average age a person is diagnosed with stomach cancer
Age of a person in the UK stop working in full time occupation. ITM survey
Income of over 50s retired income, compared to earned income of £2,375
of people in the 60-79 year old age group still report having sex on a regular basis. (Promescent)
Of surveyed women average age 64 said they were in a sexual relationship EDH.
By 2030, the number of people over 60 will have increased to 1.4 billion or 16.4% of world population and by 2050, it will have increased to 2.1 billion or 21.3% of the global population. WHO
The number of centenarians living in the UK has increased 85% in the past 15 years (ONS,
What are the Golden Years?
The golden years we assume are those periods when the stresses of work life are reduced or the financial burden on people have reduced. But it isn’t always the case. There is an assumption after 40 years of working that you have lived a life and are wiser and smarter, reduced your indebtedness and have banked some cash or have a decent pension. The problem with most people is when they are making good earnings, they tend to spend it, especially in the UK because we are a nation of borrowers and not savers.
Golden years mean different things to different people. In fact, some people say that all your years are golden or you should try to make them golden. People say I’m going to go on holiday every other month and enjoy life. Most people after a few years of going on holiday and drinking fine wines and food often look for something else more stimulating and fulfilling. The usual outcome of this lifestyle results in obesity and gout!
Let’s get real - people in their 60s and early 70s is most would carry on working in some capacity or other if they thought they could dictate their own hours, days and who they work with. Often, if you love your job and the people are around you are great then people don’t want to leave or retire and the chance to carry on in a more flexible role would be jumped at.
Today many people in their 60s think they are too young to retire and stop working, stop the drive and thrust of working and the stimulation of working with others, especially those who enjoy their jobs. In fact, these types consider they are in their golden years because they don’t need to work but do for the enjoyment and companionship. On the other hand, there are those who don’t like their jobs, never really liked their jobs, hate the people they work with and can’t wait to finish work and retire. 12% of retired people experienced loneliness in the year.
There isn’t an exact path or strategy to achieve the golden years.
Everyone is different. One person will spend every other month holidaying on a foreign beach whilst another will work full time in an animal charity shop knowing they are giving something back. Some people volunteer to work in third world countries and at the same time enjoy the aspect of living a new life in a foreign country.
Click the picture for a video with Nora's thoughts on retirement.
For some just carrying on working doesn’t really require a lot of planning, you just carry on; but if you are one of life’s lucky people who really enjoy their work then you need to start planning the last quarter of your life.
Take a look at RetirementDrive for all the options and ideas for later life changes.
20% of retired people in the UK have mobility disability. Nobody wants to get to 70 and find themselves disabled as a result of a lifetime of excessive sports activity, repetitive strain injuries and gout, especially if the person is very active mentally as well as physically. So take care of your body and avoid excessive anything when you are younger.
Better healthcare and living standards mean more people are living longer. When the NHS was founded 70 years ago, people lived an average of five years beyond the state retirement age. Even with a higher pensionable age, that average is now 15 years. The Government said we need to support older people to stay healthy, active and independent for as long as possible.
Staying fit and healthy has never been more important. Trying to keep fit and keeping to a good weight helps a lot. Making sure you eat a real balanced diet of food each week. Staying fit and walking, jogging, swimming, or recreation clubs are a great way of meeting people as well as keeping fit. Regular exercise improves cardio vascular areas, helps digestion and can stave off dementia..
Hydration is vital when you’re getting on Start drinking mineral or spa water or filter tap water. Just look at your garden to see the difference – we water our gardens from the tap and the plants, trees and shrubs survive but don’t really boom, but the moment we get 2 days of rain the vegetation comes alive. Imagine that’s what it can do for you. Check our WaterDrive. Medical professional say dehydration can be a killer and lead to a multitude of different ailments all that can have serious consequences.
If you think you’re old you will be - Positive Mental Attitude.
PMA – positive mental attitude. If you talk to people in their 90s and ask them the secret to a life, they say stay positive and never give in to old age. When you get old you ache more, get tired quicker and don’t have the energy you used to have but that doesn’t mean you need to give in and sit in a chair for ever and a day. Keep active and focused on a sport or pastime and when you feel down, get up and get going. Force yourself to get moving and don’t let it debilitate you.
One of the many things we forget about is our age and sometimes physically overdoing it can cause a few issues. Pacing yourself and making sure you stop for regular drinks and a snack to keep up your blood sugar level and energy is good. As we get older the body can lose energy faster and it can be harder to recover therefore take care of yourself and heed the warning signs.
See a BBC article on gardening and how it could help you live to 100 here
Naturally age does bring with it medical conditions and it can be very draining mentally and physically. It’s good for family members to remember this and try to keep older parents positive and help create a positive environment. Understanding and patience are critical in supporting elderly people. Remember you have no idea how it must feel to be old when you’re younger. The thought you are in the last part of your life can often feel depressing for some. Supporting elderly relatives, getting them involved in the family and looking after grandchildren helps them take their minds off their situation and give them something else to focus on; often just feeling your needed for something is enough to lift someone’s spirit
Married to a cup half empty retired person?
If you have a young mind and a cup half full attitude on life you are doomed to a life of frustration if your partner has an old mind and a cup half empty attitude.
Divorce rates in the UK
55- to 64-year-old 43% those 65 to 74 years at 39%. For adults ages 75 or older, the rate is lower at 24%. Why would people spend a lifetime together and then get divorced? Some people live together during their working life and have children and stay in the marriage for the sake of the children. Others made it to retirement because they spent most of their lives working and living and actually didn’t spend that much time together, but when retirement comes, they are both together 24/7 and they may not even like each other at all.
Is it a problem being married to an opposing person who sees life as half empty and has an old-fashioned brain and basically has retired and is now waiting for God? Brain age is covered in MindDrive.
Some people in their 60s and 70s have a very young brains and outlook and often cannot relate to people of their own age. They don’t think great I’ve retired time to take it easy, they think I’m free to do so many things I couldn’t do when working, no shackles at all and now is the time to really live my life. Whilst some old-fashioned retired minds are planning out how many cars they will need before they give up driving all together to modifying the garden to make it easier to maintain or even moving house to be closer to bus route or closure to shops so they won’t need a car..
Cup half full don’t even mention the words pensioner, cup half empty constantly reminds you they are. Some celebrate that they don’t need to pay for medication any more whilst others see it as another nail in the coffin. Some mean pensioners relish the free bus passes whilst others see it as a stigma on age. Cup half full are always planning the next project no matter how small whereas the Cup half empty won’t accept visitors on a Monday as this is wash day.
Mentally young people
Those people who have PMA and a positive outlook on life tend to push themselves more; stimulating physical and mental activity. Trying to stay young and youthful. They tend to mix with people who are younger than themselves as this is where their brains feel most comfortable and they gel with people at a younger age group whereas those retirees with old mindsets shy away from younger people and noise and look for people with a similar mindset in the opposite direction in order to share illness records, talk about life when it was better and swap funeral plan ideas.
Keeping your brain fit and active
Many medical professionals say keeping the brain active is essential to having a healthy old age. If you can have mental and / or physical activity such as playing bowls, darts, badminton, snooker or golf, it provides great stimulus needed to keep healthy. Getting involved with young people or looking after grandchildren, other children or helping out at school keeps you feeling young and vibrant. Joining a youth club as a volunteer can be so rewarding for young and old; passing and sharing information between the ages is great.
Try some of these top tips for keeping your brain in tune.
WebMD say that activity keeps your brain sharp here.
We mentioned earlier that the golden years differ for everyone and everyone has a different view on life and the quality of life. You see lots of articles about living the dream of retirement, using wonderful looking models walking on a tropical beach etc which is often not reality. But below are some examples of people who have done their own golden years.
Some real life examples
Click on any of the tabs on the right to see more information
Living Will - When do you need to think about slowing down, and what are the ‘must do’ things to address?
The Living Will
We never know what might happen – what if we are struck down with a debilitating illness that stops us from communicating effectively, or what if we become unable to make decisions? Unless we say in advance what we would like to happen, our desires and wishes in this case might include decisions being made by other people which you would not have wanted.
A Living Will – often called an Advice Decision or an Advance Statement – is simply a set of written instructions setting out all the things you want to happen – a simple set of instructions such as where you want to live, how you want to be cared for and who will be placed in charge of your financial and personal affairs. You should discuss it with family beforehand – it becomes even more important if you have no family, as social services would then decide. When it’s done you can keep it safe and amend it whenever you are able or you may get family members to update it.
Click on any of the tabs on the right to see more information
When you need a bit more support.
We will get to a stage in our lives when eventually we need more support to enable us to maintain our independence. There are so many support organisations that can come into your home to help you on a morning or provide meals etc. Guarding our independence is important to us, but if there are services there that can help why not take advantage of them?
Moving in or extending a relative’s house to create a senior one bed apartment can be a big advantage. This allows you to retain your independence but there is someone on hand to give the support if you need it. Keeping your independence as long as you can is obviously what everyone strives for but there may come a time when you need sheltered housing where there are professionals on hand who can give you more specialist medical support that a relative cannot. These housing complexes are often just like living at home but with support 24/7.
The NHS have information on housing options as you get older here.
This is where you want to live independently but need some support. It’s normally available to over 55s only. and has support, from a warden normally, and 24-hour emergency help.
You can rent or buy sheltered housing, and these complexes aren’t rated and vary.
You’ll have to pay rent or mortgage payments, and also council tax, utility bills and normally a regular service charge, which covers cleaning, support and repairs.
AgeUK have some factsheets you can download below.
Write your memoirs
The world is continuously changing and as a more senior person you have the benefit of having lived a life and have a wealth of life experience to share with others, so jot down your memories not just for your family but for others who may in the future read all about your life and experiences.
You might think: “Me, write down my memoirs, I am not famous!”. Well you would be surprised to know you are to your family, and when you go you’re taking a lot of history with you. The world is continuously changing and as a senior citizen you have the benefit of having lived a life and you know history, both the good and bad bits. You have a wealth of life experience to share with others so jot down your memories – not just for your family but for others who may in the future read all about your life and experiences. Your descendants in generations to come will take great delight trying to understand who you were, what you was like, your personality and traits.
We’re not getting into this, as people’s views are VERY personal and private. For those left behind
Inevitably we all have to leave this world and for those left behind they have to cope with life. The memories, the habits, the loss is often hard to cope with. During the first few years of loss there is a roller coaster of emotions which can be very hard to manage. A loss can occur at any time and under differing circumstances leaving people shocked, grieving and unable to cope with the loss. There are organisations available to help.
The NHS have advice here.
Mindzone have a real story about dealing with grief on the loss of a parent – see here.
Focus on the Family have a section on Coping with death and grief as part of their Life Challenges series here.
Cruse Bereavement Care offer training here – look in particular at the loss and bereavement training.
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