'When I'm 64...'

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 08 Feb 2015

‘When I’m 64’ – is when you’re most likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, but the prognosis is not all bad.

When are people diagnosed with a serious illness?

The Beatles were onto a winner in more ways than one when they penned the smash hit ‘When I’m 64’.

For the fab four’s famous ode to enduring love also managed to nail the age which has the highest percentage of people first being diagnosed with a serious illness.

We teamed up with the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), the  UK’s leading  think tank on longevity and demographic change, to produce the ‘Serious illness in the O50s’ report – which gives a fascinating insight into the whole topic.

It’s also the first time the total number of over 50s living with a serious illness in the UK has been estimated and reveals:

  • an estimated 2.6 million people aged 50 plus are living with a serious illness in England and an estimated  1 million across the UK as a whole
  • that equals nearly 14 per cent of the age-group or one in eight of us golden oldies

In the future

The report also forecasts that could increase by nearly a million to 3.4 million by 2025 in England and four million in the UK, as those in the ‘baby-boomer’ generation starts hitting their seventies.

But there is good news as well because the overall trend is that we are all healthier for longer than a decade ago.

Cardiovascular events (heart attack or stroke) show a general downward trend since 2002 which may be due to greater awareness of risk factors that have led to lifestyle changes, as well advances in medicines and preventative care. In fact there’s a large increase in people surviving heart attacks even well into their eighties.

The overall number of people living with cancer has increased in the same timeframe (but again the silver lining here is that more people are surviving cancer) and similarly for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

“This is a fascinating study around the numbers of those living with serious illness and if anything we have been very conservative with the numbers affected because of gaps in data. We must recognise that serious illness will continue to affect ever growing numbers of older people in the future,” said David Sinclair, ILC-UK Director.

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