Friday, 11 March 2011

Perhaps Britain is, after all, a country for 'happy and healthy' old men

An article appeared in the 'Observer' newspaper 2 years ago entitled :
Happy and healthy: how growing old became fun.
Britain's ageing population is staying younger for longer, say medical experts. Though there are far more people in their 80s and 90s than ever before, many remain cheerfully independent.

It made the following points, that :

* a 'Report' published by the 'Academy of Medical Sciences' and a group of leading experts on 'ageing' said, that :

* far from having lonely, decrepit existences, assailed by memory loss and physical infirmity, vast numbers of the elderly in Britain are living long, healthy, productive lives.

* the stereotyped image of a Britain with rising numbers of pensioners, kept alive by modern medicine, but crippled by arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's and living huddled and defenceless in old people's homes, was not true.

* 'healthy' life expectancy is increasing at least as quickly as life expectancy.

* according to Professor Linda Partridge : "No one wants to live an extra 10 years if they have to spend them in a nursing home, but that is not what is happening at present. People are living longer. At the same time, they also are living healthier, more productive lives.'

* Professor Kay-Tee Khaw said : "If you compare national surveys carried out between 1970 and 1990, you see the number of 85-year-olds who are disabled halved between 1971 and 1990."

* Professor Ray Tallis said : "While older people do carry a significant burden of illness, it is far less than is generally assumed. They are standing up in the battlefield but they are not being struck down by arrows."

* medical interventions and lifestyle changes have played crucial roles in bringing healthy old age to so many and drugs that counter high blood pressure and cardiac complaints have produced startling reductions in deaths from heart disease.

* lifestyle changes are also making an impact and those who stop drinking excessively or smoking or who take exercise and eat lots of fruit and vegetables not only live longer but have less chance of suffering physical or mental disability in later life.

* today's 60-year-olds have the lifestyles that 40-year-olds had a century ago and we are now shaping up to a future in which 80-year-olds will live as 60-year-olds do today.

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