Will we ever reach the stage where everyone enjoys later life?
Updated: Aug 26
A Centre for Ageing Better report 'Reframing Ageing' describes the UK’s population 'undergoing a massive age shift. In less than 20 years, one in four people will be over 65. The fact that many of us are living longer is a great achievement. But unless radical action is taken by government, business and others in society, millions of us risk missing out on enjoying those extra years'.
Why ageism matters
The report details how 'public attitudes towards ageing and older age are complex and nuanced. In our quantitative research we found that, broadly speaking, older people feel more positive about later life than younger people. However, between a quarter and almost two-fifths of all age groups see it as a time of decline and vulnerability.
'Some of these people may have internalised negative stereotypes of older age, although for others it may be based on a lived experience of decline and vulnerability. Despite this, our qualitative research found that for some participants, older age is seen as a time of freedom. Other recurring themes in the focus groups included older participants feeling younger than their actual age and the pressure of social expectations which dictate how they should look, feel and act as they grow older.'
Part of the report focuses on the dominant view of ageing and an alternative more positive view:
In conclusion: 'Despite the existence of many predominately negative narratives across society from political actors, the media, and the advertising industry (Centre for Ageing Better, 2020b), public attitudes towards ageing and older age are mixed. This research shows that while some parts of the population hold overwhelmingly negative views about ageing, many see it in a more positive light. Attitudes towards ageing are also complex and nuanced: it is possible for individuals to feel both negative and positive things about ageing and older age.
'There is a clear appetite among the public for a new way of talking about ageing – one that conveys that it’s a lifelong process of growth and, whatever our age, we all want good health, purpose and connection with others. Ultimately, we need to recognise the opportunities as well as the challenges of ageing and later life'.