Improvements in healthcare as well as changing attitudes to old age are part of the reason why many over 75′s do not ‘feel old’. In fact a new survey of over 75′s conducted on behalf of SAGA has shown that of those questioned, a majority (68%) said that they did not ‘feel old’. This number rose to 86% when the question was put to those aged over 50. For those who campaign for the older generation this will come as welcome but not surprising news as many argue that older people are merely classed or stigmatised as ‘old’ by their younger counterparts. Changes in government legislation have also helped to fight ageism, such as the abolition of the compulsory retirement age which was scrapped in April of 2011.
Campaigner for the elderly and former government advisor Dr Ros Altmann says that…”….people who are generally considered old by society do not feel so and attitudes to old are clearly undergoing a major societal shift – and about time too. Saga has long recognised that people now stay fit and active much longer than in the past and medical advances have done wonders for our quality of life.” Life expectancy has also been rising steadily which means that retirement spans are significantly longer than they were 40 years ago as people are in better health when in retirement. We have reported on dozens of stories where those aged over 50′s are increasingly seeing their activity levels rise, such as attending rock concerts, playing on computer consoles or even embarking on daredevil pursuits on holiday.
What is clear is that the term ‘old age’ or ‘elderly’ is meaningless in so far as it really is down to the individual. Many people can be offended if they feel they are being included in these kind of generalisations and point to examples such as the picture of an elderly couple doddering across the road to indicate a warning that elderly people maybe crossing the road.