NEWS:

  • Think tank urges continued focus on preventing ill health as research highlights that ill health and inactivity is not inevitable.
  • Age UK announce plans for annual “Greengross Lecture”

A new factpack published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) (1) illustrates the realities of living to 80 for the 367,000 people reaching the milestone age this year.

Inspired by ILC-UK Chief Executive and founder, Baroness Sally Greengross, who turned 80 on the 29th of June this year, 80 at Eighty (2) gives 80 facts about life in your 9th decade.

Across the world, the number of people aged 80 plus has increased from 15 million (1950) to 110 million (2011). By 2050 the number aged over 80 is estimated to reach 400 million.

This factpack incorporates new analysis by ILC-UK of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing by ILC-UK. 80 at Eighty reveals:

Many English 80 year olds remain very active…

  • In England over 16,000 people aged 80+ are still in paid employment.
  • People aged 80+ may be more satisfied with their sex lives, as 67.9% report the frequency to be about right, in contrast to 54.5% of those aged 50-64.
  • More than half (55%) of men aged 80+ are married (or in a civil partnership) vs. 21% of women.

But health problems are common…

  • Around 16% of those aged 80-84 have already survived a heart attack.
  • 49% of women and 38% of men aged 80+ are often troubled with physical pain.
  • 50.8% of men and 56.7% of women aged 80 and over report having a limiting long standing illness.
  • Over one in ten of those aged 80-84 have some kind of dementia

Alongside Baroness Greengross, Julie Andrews, the Dalai Lama, Woody Allen and Norman Foster turn 80 this year. Elvis would have been 80 this year.

80 at Eighty was launched at a reception hosted by Age UK this week. During the reception, Age UK announced plans for the introduction of an annual “Greengross” lecture.

Baroness Altmann CBE, Minister of State for Pensions said
“I welcome this year’s edition of the Factpack, building as it does on the high quality research that has been the hallmark of ILC UK’s work over a number of years. In common with much of ILC UK’s research, this usefully highlights the importance of addressing the challenges and opportunities of our ageing society. Improving quality of later life is an important goal which can benefit increasing numbers of people.”

Baroness Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive said
“It is brilliant to see how many 80 year olds remain active. There were 17 runners in this year’s London Marathon aged over 80.  But 80 at Eighty also highlights the day to day challenges faced by too many people into their 80s and beyond.
The priority for me, as I pass my own 80th birthday, is to focus policy effort on ensuring more and more 80 year olds are healthier longer. Growing numbers of people aged into their 80s and 90s is great news, particularly if we can better prevent the multiple illnesses that can destroy wellbeing in later life.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK said:
“It is fantastic that there are more over-80s in our society than ever before and that this age group is increasing more quickly than any other.

"Growing numbers of these people are making significant contributions to their families and communities - indeed to our country - and in the process they are dismantling ageist stereotypes about what it is to be 'old'.

"No one epitomises this better than Baroness Sally Greengross, who has had a long and distinguished career supporting older people that she shows no sign of giving up, and who herself is joining the over-80s club this year.

"Age UK is therefore delighted to announce that from 2016 we will host an annual Greengross Lecture in Sally's honour. Our intention is that the Lecture will champion later life and the person or people who have made a really big difference to it that year - a fitting tribute we hope to all that Sally has done and continues to do."

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