60 is the new 50 as the boomers refuse to go quietly; serious illness among the over sixties nearly half what it was a decade ago

Never mind what your granny says, they made babies of stern stuff in the 1950s and 60s.

In fact the post war baby boomer generation is proving to be one of the most successful of all time at that trickiest of evolutionary skills…survival.

Officially, a baby boomer is anyone born between 1946 and 1965.

Considering they were born into a world where bread and dripping was a family staple and orange juice considered an exotic restaurant starter, it’s a small wonder there are many of the species left to study.

Nonetheless, according to the latest figures from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK), they are not merely surviving, but thriving.

Less than 8% of the 60-65 age group in the UK suffer from one or more of the serious illnesses; dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s, coronary heart disease or has suffered a stroke or heart attack.

This is down from 13.8% in the decade to 2002.

A similar drop is seen in the 65 to 70 group, down to 11.7 % from 17.3%.

The news is good right up the 80’s age group where there has been a sharp upturn, particularly in cancers and dementia.

Conversely, the improvements in over 60’s health have largely resulted from a reduction in heart attacks and strokes which may be attributable to a lower numbers of smokers, better diet and more awareness of the need to exercise and manage personal health.

The results also mirror the latest analysis from Cancer UK which projects a future in which more people live longer and encounter cancers as their first or most serious illness.

The challenge is how we cope with these shifts in our demographics and health profiles, but it’s not as if this was a surprising development.

Successive governments of all shades and ideologies around the world have ignored the inevitable for decades and are now face to face with the issue.

Some time in this decade there will come a tipping point where there are more people over 65 than under 16.

And judging by their record to date, those boomers aren’t going to allow themselves to be ignored for much longer.

 

Sources: Sunday Times et al.
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