There are some sayings that never leave us: distance makes the heart grow fonder, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and now we’ve been told that socialising in old age helps you live longer.
You might have noticed the above photo (of which the Trajectory team have grown rather fond) re-appear on our Twitter feed this week in response to Public Health England’s report on recent trends in life expectancy at older ages. Despite past findings in 2011 and 2012 indicating a decline, the New Year has brought with it new results. Professor John Newton, PHE’s Chief Knowledge Officer (possibly the best job title we’ve heard for a while) confirmed that
‘Overall the report presents a positive picture nationally and life expectancy is the highest it’s been since we started measuring’.
We couldn’t help but hear echoes in Professor Newton’s statement of a recent study Trajectory conducted for Cigna (see video below), where research found that the mid-life crisis has been put on hold – ‘those in their 50s and early 60s are happier than they were before turning 50, and many are planning big for the future.’
By big, we mean less fussing over pensions and more fun with friends, family and other regular activities, which could be the answer to why our ageing population is growing. Gone are the days where middle age meant staying at home and waiting for the inevitable delivery of a retirement chair, the start of adventure beckons no matter what age box you tick on your medical form. An amusing piece in this week’s Guardian pass note section similarly explored this theory in ‘Why book clubs help you live longer’. Though this discussion on health and wellbeing doesn’t seriously claim that book clubs offer the elixir of eternal youth, it does draw from results recently published by medical journal BMJ Open, revealing how
‘people enjoy healthier lives if they maintain social bonds after they retire. Something like a book club, where you regularly meet friends and chat, can significantly reduce your risk of death in the first six years post-retirement.’
Understanding old age, as well as adapting to changes in what it means, is crucial as the UK’s population ages. Although we have a mere 11.6m pensioners among us today, we will have more than 15m by 2030, including 5m aged 80 or more. With the meaning of age changing, and older people being ‘younger’ for longer, the implications are huge. We have a population that will be active in society – in work, leisure and study – for later and later into the so-called ‘autumn years’.
So this Friday, dear reader, it’s good news. We’re not only feeling younger, but we’ve got more time to enjoy it. In this fast-paced life of ours it seems we can slow down as long as we do not stop completely.
I suppose that the longer we live, the more time we have to see if it’s true.