RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

Over 65s living for today not planning for tomorrow

16th September 2010 Print

New international healthcare research by Bupa reveals the emergence of a young-at-heart generation, who still feel young and healthy in their 70s and 80s.

Across the globe, 72 per cent of those aged 65 and above do not consider themselves to be ‘old', with France emerging as the most young-at-heart nation with nearly a third of its population (32%) believing that people are only ‘old' when they're over 80. People in China, who believe old age starts before the age of 60 (65%), have emerged as those least young-at-heart.

Brazilians are those most looking forward to old age (17% compared to 3% globally), while those in India are the least bothered of all countries surveyed about getting older (70%).

Despite this positive outlook towards ageing, the majority of people around the world are failing to plan for the realities of old age. Fewer than a quarter (22%) of over 65s have put money aside to prepare for old age. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) are assuming that their families will be there to shoulder the burden of care.

Russia lags behind all countries surveyed with two-thirds admitting they have failed to make any preparations at all, while India bucks the trend completely with the majority (71%) of Indians stating they have already made some kind of preparation for their later years.

However, a Bupa-sponsored report released today by the London School of Economics (LSE) reveals that the ‘informal care network' (the traditional pattern of families looking after their elderly) is disintegrating. This is due to a number of factors, including the number of older people in need of care growing faster than the number of potential carers from younger generations, the growth of women in employment and the increase of one person households.

Dr Sneh Khemka, Medical Director of Bupa International said: "We are seeing the start of a global care crunch with people across the world failing to plan for their old age. It's really refreshing to see that many are leading longer, healthier and happier lives but we mustn't become complacent. People now need to start thinking about who will care for them, when they are no longer able to look after themselves. We talk about our pensions but not our long term care needs. The risk is that families will be in danger of not being able to deal with the specialist care needs of their elderly relatives."

Jose-Luis Fernandez, Principal Research Fellow, LSE, said: "Across the world, a combination of societal and economic factors - including demographic changes, the breakdown of the extended family, and the rise in divorce rates, migration and women in the workplace - are eroding the family-supported structures that have provided historically the bulk of the care for dependent older people.  With state social care systems also under huge financial strain, a global challenge is emerging about how to support dependent older people in the future."

Dr Sneh Khemka concludes: "All older people have the right to personalised, quality care.  But this will only be possible if people who are living for today, also start planning for tomorrow.

"We urge everyone to start thinking about their future care, to start talking about it with their families and to start preparing for it."