The question of what is old age – when are we truly old – arises because death is increasingly being pushed back. “We are talking about extending lives in a way we have never experienced before,” said Harper, the new director of the Royal Institution.
The statistics suggest that general life expectancy is rising by two and a half years per decade. Another prediction is that half of the babies being born now in the UK will live until they are 104. In Japan it is 107. “We are ageing dramatically and we are ageing without radical science,” said Harper.
What people do when they retire – if they do retire – is changing. “I think it is likely we are going to have far more fluid lives,” said Harper.
The issue of longer lives raised lots of issues which needed to be debated, she added.
What happens if you do not inherit from your grandparents (what you’d expected) until you are in your 80s? Do we need to rethink marriage when not every couple may relish the prospect of being together for 60 or 70 years or longer.
Harper said active adults in later life should not be considered old and they were often the victims of prejudice. “We live in a society where we know sexism is wrong, we know that racism is wrong, but actually there are many, many examples where stereotyping according to age is seen as acceptable.
(Excepted by LofG)