Well there’s usually no single reason, but it is becoming increasingly personal for me. Let’s look at some figures and thoughts.
The older population is ageing. By mid-century worldwide the over 85 population will be about 377 million people! With such a big figure, it’s a good idea to know how to remain as healthy as possible so that we can continue to lead productive, useful, happy and active lives and contribute economically and socially to the community in which we live. Older people are progressively becoming a large part of the (unpaid) workforce. They are engaged in caregiving for even older people and frequently for grandchildren too. This is particularly pertinent for older women. Many older people are also engaged in other forms activity like learning and education, the arts, sports, church, local government, environmental matters, animal welfare and many others. In fact many aspects of our communities would not function without a healthy older population.
In the past decade the over 65 population has become more engaged in physical activity and has reported less disability overall. Most older people (over 65 year olds) live in their own homes, with about a quarter of this population living alone. It is interesting to note that only 5% live in residential aged care at any one time; this figure increases with age, so that the average age of people living in residential aged care is in the 80s.
These compelling statistics demonstrate good reasons for us to be interested in healthy ageing, in fact they show that we are becoming more engaged in pursuing a healthy life.
Chronic disease does still bother about 87% of all older Australians, mostly with arthritis and related conditions. Hypertension and back problems are also reported to be big issues for older people. Mental health problems in all their guises are major issues for attending the general practitioner and other health care professionals. This can be because older people are worried about the likelihood of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia prevalence increases with age, affecting about 1 in 3 people over the age of 85 years.
Chronic illnesses do not have cures, but there are plenty of treatments and lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference to how we feel and our quality of life. The earlier we start putting these in place, the better our ageing will be. It’s beneficial to start our healthy habits early in life, but it’s still never too late to start!
Check out some of our blogs and podcasts about exercise, balance and strength, arthritis and more for tips and information of better ageing.
And of course, if you have a question on ageing for myself or Jason, get in touch with us via the contact page and we’ll answer your questions in our ‘audience questions’ segment on The Better Ageing Podcast.