October 11, 2011

UK: ’75 is the new 65,’ says research report

LONDON, England / The Daily Mail / News / October 11, 2011

Why you're not really old until you've hit 75
as pensioners continue to live like those in middle age

People should only be counted as elderly once they reach the age of 75, a charity report said yesterday.

It said that the number of people who live by themselves or who say they are lonely leaps up among those who have passed the age of 75.

But many in the traditional pensioner age group – those over 65 – continue to lead lives similar to those of younger middle-aged people.

Young at heart: Many in the traditional pensioner age group - those over 65 - continue to lead lives similar to those of younger middle-aged people

The report by the City Bridge Trust said: ’75 is the new 65’.

The findings, developed by the charity with the help of Labour-leaning think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, come amid growing evidence that many people are entering old age much later in life than used to be the case.

Large numbers of people are currently carrying on working beyond 65, and official retirements ages are going up. Life expectancy grows every year thanks to better living conditions, nutrition and healthcare, easier working lives, and the decline of unhealthy habits like smoking.

The report said that efforts to help the vulnerable elderly should be adjusted and ‘a simple but blunt way of targeting those most at risk could be to focus on the over 75 age group rather than the over 65 group as most programmes and benefits currently do.’

The report said that nearly one in five people over 75 say they feel lonely much of the time compared to just over one in 10 of those aged between 65 and 74.

Only a quarter of the 65-74 age group live alone, but almost half of over 75s are on their own.

Very few of those aged 65-74 are either without a car or cannot use public transport, but more than one in 10 over 75s have no form of transport they can use.

Its figures were drawn from the a large-scale study of older people, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Clare Thomas of the City Bridge Trust said: ‘By targeting services specifically at those aged over 75, rather than those simply over retirement age, policymakers can reach those in need and ensure they do not slip through the gaps in service provision.’

The break-up of many families and the failure of many younger people to form long-term families is also leading to isolation for the elderly, the report said.

Nick Pearce of the IPPR said: ‘For too many people, growing old is a journey of loss, losing work, mobility and friendships. Changes in kinship patterns mean that there are fewer people in each generation of a family and they are more likely to be geographically dispersed.’

He added that the growth of computer technology, increasing dependence on cars and the decline of organisations with local branches and members has also led to greater isolation for the elderly.

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