Monday, 24 March 2014

Britain in 2115 : Unlikely to be a country for a very large number of very old men

Just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, there were only 100 centenarians in the whole of Britain. When King George V sent out the first congratulatory telegrams to centenarians in 1917, there were only 24. Now Buckingham Palace is sending out around 10,000 laser-printed royal 100th birthday cards a year.

The latest Office for National Statistics report reveals that in 2012 more than half a million people were over 90 years old and of these over 150,000 were old men. At the same time 13,350 of the half a million had received their telegram from Queen Elizabeth II.
The Report predicts that that 35% of the 826,000 babies born in 2012 will live to become centenarians and, if Britain still has a monarchy in 2114, receive their congratulations from the throne.

surviving to 100

Stand aside for a moment from very old people receiving congratulation from the Monarch on becoming centenarians and consider that Britain, in 2014 is a country where large numbers of old people are sent to the margins. Crippled by social isolation and loneliness and facing difficulties created by cuts in the welfare budget, many of them do not 'enjoy' but rather 'endure' a long and not 'happy', but 'unhappy' retirement. Is it likely that, in the Britain of 2114, centenarians will live better lives than large numbers of their predecessors lead today ?

Janet Morrison, of the charity, 'Independent Age', said:
‘The stunning 73% increase in the number of centenarians is a massive cause for celebration. It is particularly good news for older men,  there are far more men aged 90 or over than ten years ago and women over 90 now outnumber men by just 2.5 to 1, compared to 3.3 to 1 ten years ago. These trends are expected to continue, yet we are woefully under-prepared to meet the challenges and indeed seize the opportunities presented by population ageing.Urgent action is needed in health and social care, in work, in lifestyles and in our attitudes if we are to adjust to an ageing society.’

David Sinclair, Head of Policy and Research at the International Longevity Centre UK, warned that :
" Now that we are getting so much better at keeping people alive...we will be older, but in worse health, and at high risk of living alone in unsuitable accommodation. The other problem is that we are very poor at forward planning, as politicians and individuals. We deal with the problems that are under our noses, but even problems two or three years away seem quite distant enough to put off. When you're talking about forecasts for a time half a century away and more, I see no evidence that we are putting in place the measures to deal with it."
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:
"Nearly one in five people in our country will live to see their 100th birthday. The increase demonstrates the true worth of advances in medicine and the increasing effectiveness of preventative treatments." However, despite the ageing population there was a "real crisis in care" as the number of older people receiving social care support had fallen by "more than a quarter since 2005". "It is time for politicians in all parties to act to make sure services can meet the needs of an ageing population."

Britain in 2014 : "Unlikely Caroline. Most unlikely."

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