Did you realise middle age now lasts until you’re 74?

Blog posted

30th April 2015

Working within the retirement sector does inevitably mean that the subject of ageing and the ageing process is a constant source of conversation and one heightened recently by some fascinating insights into longevity from Europe.

In case you missed these latest revelations, I wanted to share some of them with you because they are astonishing, not least the headline above!

According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, old age should be measured not by age but by how long people have left to live.

Drawing a pension for 24 years

The institute argues that old age should be defined as having 15 or fewer years left to live. Based on a recent estimate by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average retiree here in Britain can look forward to drawing their pension for up to 24 years.

Using the Austrian institute’s theory, this would mean our current generations of baby boomers remain in middle age until they hit 74!

This figure takes some swallowing but the more you consider it seriously the more it starts to make sense. Advances in medicine, better knowledge of anti-ageing diets and well being combined with a more pro-active approach to staying younger both mentally and physically than their parents and grandparents, means that our ageing population is here to stay, quite literally.

I don’t think a large proportion of people today accept old age as they did a century ago. What we call the army of baby boomers who have grown up largely during a period of prosperity and enjoyed a relatively healthy and happy life so far, are now ready to grasp everything their latter years brings and embrace this period as the next exciting chapter of life.

I can see evidence of this in our own retirement villages where residents constantly maintain the fact that active independence living is the order of the day. Occasionally our villages are mistakenly referred to as ‘the care home up the road’ – a description guaranteed to raise a cross word from the residents’ association!

Defying the stereotype

I take inspiration from the attitudes and lifestyles of these residents who defy what many people would believe to be a stereotypical image of a male or female in their 80s and 90s, and even one or two centenarians.

I guess this is why middle aged at 74 isn’t such a radical idea. In fact, check out this man in Moscow who believes he can stretch the boundaries even further with his own personal plan to live to be 150 years old.

As a professor in generative medicine he should be more aware than most of the capabilities of achieving such a vast age. If you have the time, do read this article in last week’s Daily Telegraph by Science Editor Sarah Knapton which sets out Dr Zhavoronkov’s compelling reasons for living to be 150. He also provides readers with his own top 10 tips for living to 150. Fascinating.

Earlier this year Kings College London published findings in The Journal of Physiology that proved active people in their 70s are just as fit as those in their 50s – more evidence to support the 74 middle aged theory!

Older cyclists prove the point

Again, Sarah Knapton at the Telegraph reported on this research which revolved around a study of older cyclists, another very interesting report.

Although I don’t have the scientific evidence to support my opinions, I have endless examples of anecdotal evidence from working within the retirement sector for the last decade. From my standpoint, I categorically agree that active, independent living in retirement is exactly the right approach to anti ageing.

Mr Jervis Gee at our Blagdon Village in Somerset is testament to precisely this. The 93-year-old gentleman was featured in a Daily Mail article last month which focused on the importance of staying fit and why facilities in retirement villages such as ours need to include gyms, pools, exercise classes and even access to a physical trainer where possible.

In Mr Gee’s case, ill health led him to start a rigorous exercise regime and the results are astonishing. The article explains more and Mr Gee, like many of the residents living at any one of our 14 villages, is a perfect example of why ageing today does definitely not mean it’s time for the pipe and slippers!

From the residents I regularly meet and chat with to those I also witness enjoying life and really getting the most out of village life, the idea of reaching 150 years is not such a crazy idea after all.

I’ll leave that thought with you while I sit back and enjoy my extended period of middle age living!

Warm regards – whatever your age.

Sarah Burgess
Sales and marketing Director