Director of Communications and Influencing, Centre for Ageing Better
Today’s 50-year-olds are likely to have an astounding 36 or more years to live. So those of us approaching later life need to think very differently about what those extra years will hold.
Most of us want some pretty fundamental things when it comes to later life: good health, financial security, to have good relationships with friends and family and live in a home where we feel safe and warm, in an area we like.
But many people are worried about a deterioration in both their physical and mental ability to work, get around, and do the hobbies and pastimes they love, as well as having enough money to get by or deal with unexpected events like having to pay for care.
We know that many of these factors need structural change in the work, housing and health systems. But there’s a lot we can do ourselves, too.
Being able to walk to the shops or to services, like the GP, can make a huge difference to our wellbeing, and so too does living in a community we feel connected to and part of.
How can we get ready?
Take health, for example. Just a few minutes a day of activities to improve our strength and balance can reduce our risk of falling and keep us healthy and independent for many years longer.
Our homes play a vital role in this too. Having a home that’s suitable for our changing needs – with adaptations like grab rails or walk-in showers – means we’re able to stay safe in our own home as we get older.
The area where we live matters hugely. Being able to walk to the shops or to services, like the GP, can make a huge difference to our wellbeing, and so too does living in a community we feel connected to and part of.
Of course, one of the most crucial areas of planning for later life is finances.
Many of us haven’t thought very hard about how long we’re likely to live, and how much we’ll need to save for retirement – but this is storing up problems for the long-term.
We all need to take a long, hard look at how much we think we’ll need, and how we’ll save for it.