EML has spent over a decade researching the impact of the dramatic increase in worldwide human life expectancy. While most of us have heard we’re all living longer, few understand what these changes mean for them. The trend to live longer is shared, but the implications are different for countries, businesses and individuals – in the short term and looking further ahead. Here are some of the common challenges facing octogenarians in the UK.
This is a group that started life in post war austerity but have gone on to enjoy post war prosperity, life-time employment, dramatic improvements in healthcare, gold plated pensions and booming property prices. What surprises many is that they are still around today having grown up expecting to live for just a couple of years after retirement.
Here are some of the common challenges they face:
A life-time of hoarding. Brought up in times of shortage, ‘Just in case…’ is their mantra. If the second world war were to be re-run they would be ready! Learning to look at possessions objectively and discarding items that are not needed is a real challenge for some.
Saving for a rainy day. Financial hoarding is another theme. In one way they are right as they never expected to live this long, but what they don’t see is that they didn’t spend it then – are not spending it now and have no intention of spending it ever – so why have it?!
A life-time ignoring health. This was the first generation to benefit from the NHS -but some saw this as a licence to ignore their own health – whatever the problem, the NHS would fix it. Smoking, drinking too much, forgetting exercise and other over-indulgences has resulted in a life of inactivity, pain and doctors appointments.
Increasing isolation. Often growing up in stable communities the increasingly transient nature of life today means that friends and family move away to be replaced by strangers. Many octogenarians find themselves increasingly isolated and even lonely
Keeping up to date. While not all change is good those who failed to embrace modern technology are finding life particularly tough. The High Street is changing, bank branches are closing, while increasing security requires that you have both a computer and mobile phone to transact on-line
Keeping busy. One octogenarian wondered why they were not being invited to the weekly bridge game – asking if they have caused offence the answer was no, but games are arranged by text and no phone meant no invitation. Keeping busy is a job in itself!