Old person's hands image

Ipsos MORI has carried out a new global study, in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, to highlight the varying attitudes towards ageing across 30 countries.

According to the findings, Britons have a negative attitude towards age, with only three in 10 respondents saying that they are looking forward to old age, compared to more than double (68 percent) disagreeing with the statement.

This could be due to the negative expectations the participants had towards later life, with 38 percent of people believing they will be fit and healthy in old age, while one in five respondents disagreed. Two in five of those aged 16-24 agree that they expect to be fit and healthy in old age, but this figure decreases to just a third of those aged 55-64.

50 percent of those surveyed agree that they are worried about getting old, yet only 18 percent said that they are not worried.

Britons in the study noted that the good things about old age are giving up work, having more time for leisure and hobbies and spending time with family and friends. But, for the negative apsects, respondents were worried about losing their mobility, finances and memory loss.

In addition, people in Britain feel positive towards the role of technology for elderly people, with half of the respondents agreeing that technological advancements will improve old age, in contrast to just one in ten disagreeing.

Britons also felt that the media negatively represents old age, with nearly one third of respondents saying that TV, film and advertising make ageing seem depressing with limited opportunities.

Two thirds of Britons think that the quality of later life is in their own hands; 68 percent think that it is possible for people to prepare for old age, so that they are healthier and able to cope, including 18 percent who think that there is a great deal that they can do. One in five, however, think that it is not possible to prepare, including 7 percent who state it is all down to luck.

Suzanne Hall, Director at Ipsos MORI, said: “The growth of the ageing population is one of our greatest achievements. However, it also presents society, business and brands with significant challenges as well.

“Our research shows that, globally, there is a great deal of negativity towards later life, with financial and health concerns prevalent. Feeding into this negativity is a sense that the media does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential. It is therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’ and ‘unfairly treated’ along with ‘wise’.

“There are reasons for optimism, however. More people globally have faith in the power of technology to improve the lives of the elderly. People also tend to think that there are things that they can do to ensure they are prepared for old age – though there is a gap between what we know we should be doing, and what we are doing in practice.

“Later life should be our golden years – but there is clearly much work to be done for this time in our life to be seen as such.”

In August 2018, the Centre for Ageing Better outlined a strategy to support people approaching later life, including improving housing, health, employment and communities.

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, added: “There are tremendous opportunities that come from longer lives, yet just one in three people worldwide say they are looking forward to their old age. This is perhaps not surprising given the prevailing narrative across the globe is one of decline, frailty, ill-health and loneliness. These negative experiences are not inevitable.

“We must improve our workplaces, our housing, our health and our communities to enable more of us to age well. Changing our own and society’s attitudes to later life is an essential first step.”

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