Shining a light on later life

This blog was contributed by Andy Glyde, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

The BBC season on ageing, When I’m 65, produced some excellent hard-hitting documentaries on what it is like to get older. As a self-confessed telly addict and campaigner on older people’s issues, it was right up my street.

The good thing about the season was its boldness for not holding back. This was strikingly clear in the first programme, When I Get Older, which exposed some of the toughest issues faced by older people: poverty, isolation, loneliness, bereavement and caring for a partner, followed by life in a care home. Even I have to admit to shedding a tear or two as the four older celebrities went through their journey of discovery.

The crucial thing throughout the entire series was that all of the older celebrities involved were honest about their pre-conceptions about later life; Lesley Joseph thinking that families should be fine to care for loved ones, John Simpson seeing little point to living with dementia and Tony Robinson having such a negative attitude towards care homes. As one might expect with such stories, each experienced an epiphany to one level or another about how they had completely misjudged the situations they found themselves in. Not that later life is always rosy, but it certainly is not always as bad as one might think.

For me, the most inspiring show of the season was the one that seemed to arouse the least attention. How to Live Beyond 100 met some of Britain’s centenarians and found out their experiences of life having reached the big 1-0-0. From playing golf to swimming to being involved in the community, each highlighted the importance of being active in later life.

My particular favourite was Fauja Singh, the 101 year old marathon runner, for whom I have a huge amount of respect for, particularly as I ran past him in the London Marathon earlier this year. Continue reading “Shining a light on later life”

When I’m 65

This blog was contributed by Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK

Tom WrightThe BBC has launched a series of programmes about ageing called ‘When I’m 65’ that will look at the experiences of older people and some of the choices that they face. It will run across the BBC including radio phone-ins, features and interviews.

This is a great opportunity to look at the important role that older people play in work, in family life and in the community, and explore different experiences of growing older.

In the UK there are 10.3m people aged 65 or over and this is expected to rise to over 16.4m in 2033. But within this growing ‘older population’ are several generations with differing experiences, aspirations and needs.

The notion that our lives will follow a pattern of education, followed by work and then a period of retirement is being broken down.

Older people in their 50s and 60s will have to work longer as a consequence of the rising State Pension age and are more likely to have to juggle work and caring commitments. Continue reading “When I’m 65”