Monday, 20 February 2023


Elderly people are increasing in number and as a proportion of the total population. A combination of increased longevity – up by roughly 10 years over the past decade – and a decline in birth rate means the over 65s are becoming an increasingly important sector that will have further doubled in size by the middle of this century.

1950's Primary School -

We’re a strange bunch. Brought up on school milk, Latin and politics more redolent of Trollope than Laura Kuenssberg. How strange was shown vividly when recently discussing my first trip to Japan with one of my god-daughters. It was like visiting another planet, I told her. I described getting hopelessly lost in Tokyo. Exasperated she said that was ridiculous when all I had to do was use Google Maps. I told her Google didn’t exist back then. I think she thought I was joking.

We span leaking fountain pens, a university population of just over 10% of young people as opposed to 50%, lax drink driving attitudes,  even more lax attitudes to hygiene, the beginning of rock and roll, racist, misogynistic, homophobic comedians evoking gales of laughter, 90% of the population identifying themselves as Christian and a grave suspicion of foreigners apart from Americans whom we worshipped from afar and at the cinema.

The Magnificent Seven | Moviepedia | Fandom

It was another world. Hard to believe how much has changed. Equally hard that most oldies are now as much at home with the past and the internet.

But the problem is we’re unaffordable. We’re rapidly approaching a time when those claiming pensions will exceed those working whose tax pays for those pensions. The elderly also need the NHS more often than younger people. As my wife said to me recently “how are all your aches and pains today?” evidence of the reality that being fit as a fiddle my body is not the strongest part of me anymore. Gone are the days of boxing and pole vaulting to be replaced by a doctor saying gravely “you are in reasonable condition considering your age.”

Old man walking bent hi-res stock photography and images - Alamy

This is not just a British problem. France is currently addressing the issue of retirement age and there are riots because of it. Throughout the developed world people live longer as the birth rate declines. China is facing the most dramatic projected population change of all, halving by the end of this century.

The Thursday Murder Club: (The Thursday Murder Club 1):  Osman, Richard: 9780241988268: Books

Having identified the problems age can create, there are upsides too. Maybe the reason Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club (and its two follow ups) have struck gold is he’s identified the potency of dramatising and glamourising the elderly.  His first book is being turned into a film by Stephen Spielberg no less. Set in the Sussex countryside the retirement village he describes is one he understands because his mother lives there and which I understand too because my 100 year old Mother in Law also lives there. 

Nowadays people increasingly die when they’re in reasonably good shape. A friend recently went on a five week Saga cruise in the Caribbean. Everyone on it was very old but full of life until there were five deaths, one of them an 85 year old in the middle of an ambitious dive into the sea.

Inspiring news comes from 81 year old Neuroscientist Professor Richard Restak who’s been studying how to enhance brain health and memory. Read fiction he says,  learn poetry and think. Most of all keep working. Surely it’s time to end that nonsense you should stop working at 65? If we carried on working just imagine the impact on the economy.

The Complete Guide to Memory | Book by Richard Restak | Official Publisher  Page | Simon & Schuster

Sorry, I must go and have a little nap.

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