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Is LIving Longer a Good Thing?

(47 Posts)
juneh Wed 18-Sep-13 09:21:34
Follow the link to Gransnet Conwy for a discussion.

FlicketyB Wed 18-Sep-13 15:43:16

The idea that previous generations only lived into their 40s is a myth. 40 plus is the average age if you take everybody whoever lived at a certain period whether as little as 1 hour or to over 90 and averaged it.

What people forget is that in the 19th century as many as 30% of children died before they were 5 while now it is only 2% and that very high child mortality rate dragged the average age down. A quick example below

Age at death: 1,2, 3, 4, 5 40, 50, 60, 70, 80. Average age at death 31.5 years

Age at death: 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, Average age at death: 42.5

Inn the 19th century my family lived in abject poverty in the slums of dockland in London, most lived into their 50s, and several into their 80s. There was nothing exceptional in this.

Jendurham Wed 18-Sep-13 16:06:14

My husband died of brain cancer last year, aged 65.
His father died of bowel cancer in 1998, aged 77.
His father died of bowel cancer in 1975 aged 80.
Who's living longer?
I've been doing research into my mothers family from 1777 to 1950. Lots of them had 8 or 9 children. They either died in their 20s or lived to be over 80.

absent Wed 18-Sep-13 20:32:43

The suggestion that we are living longer than previous generations is nonsense. Apart from anecdotal evidence; e.g. my mother was 92, my mother-in-law was 94, my father-in-law was 93, my grandmother was 84, my grandfather was 90 when they died, a stroll around an old graveyard (always fascinating places) will disabuse anyone of that idea.

janeainsworth Wed 18-Sep-13 21:46:55

I suspect that 'living longer' is not quite the same as 'increased life expectancy' - there seems to be universal agreement that life expectancy has increased over the last four decades

As FlicketyB says, increased life expectancy of the population means that more individuals are living into their 80's and 90's, and there are fewer deaths in infancy and childhood. This isn't the same as saying that we have all evolved genetically, into super-people with naturally longer life-spans than we would have had a century ago.

Our longer lives are due to advances in medical science, not biological change within ourselves.

Sadly, as the link points out longer lives come with a cost, with many suffering ill-health and disability during those extra years.

FlicketyB Wed 18-Sep-13 22:31:36

absent I think the figures show that more people now are living to extreme old age, by that I mean 85 plus, but, as you say a walk around any graveyard shows that many people in the past lived into their 60s and 70s and some to ages beyond that.

As I mentioned in my previous post an average is just that, a value around the middle of the range and roughly 50% of the population exceeded the average. So often people see the average as being, 'you were lucky to reach the average age.

In previous times if you made it to 5 you were likely to make it to 50 plus.

j08 Wed 18-Sep-13 22:46:14

Better nutrition has got to have something to do with it.

When walking round ancient churchyards we are always struck by the relatively young ages on the gravestones.

I think we have a longer life expectancy today. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on individual circumstances, and how long we manage to keep body and mind in a good state of repair.

PRINTMISS Thu 19-Sep-13 08:22:38

Do you think that perhaps it is not that we are living longer, but that the world is more densely populated than before, therefore there are more people around who are bound to live longer, - if you see what I mean.

juneh Thu 19-Sep-13 09:19:17

Perhaps the term 'more of us are living longer' and have a longer life expectancy is too generalised and of course we have to take into account that over time there are less young and more older people for various reasons. We know for sure that the country, indeed Europe, is top heavy with elderly and that makes the care difficult and costly and the young have more cause to worry about the drain on society. There is a lot said about categories of ageing, for example 60 being the new 40 and so on.

Nowadays we have the benefits of making old age more comfortable, we are more likely to live a life of relative quality because of the advances of medical science the younger generation if they obey the keeping healthy rules will out live us. I know my own mother lived to 94 as did her mother before her but the quality of their lives was not good.
I think that living a long life is a good thing if we are able to care for ourselves and live healthy independent lives otherwise I am not so sure.

Gally Thu 19-Sep-13 10:18:02

Both my parents lived well into their 80's and their siblings too, some into their 90's. My only living Aunt is a very mentally agile, if physically frail, 98. She still lives alone but with daily help. She has lived a full, very healthy life; married briefly in the 40's, she completes the DT crossword each day, eats well and plays bridge 3x a week. However, she now tells me 'it's time I went'. She, tongue in cheek, says she hopes she will go to bed and not wake up in the morning. I suppose that now she is the only one of her generation, she feels lost despite having a close family who all keep in close touch. I tell her she will definitely get her letter from the Queen - she just gives me a withering look! Not sure what I have to look forward to hmm

annodomini Thu 19-Sep-13 10:23:34

They do say that if you want longevity you should choose your parents carefully. Well, I will catch up on my mother next year and my father on just another two years. Watch this space. hmm

janeainsworth Thu 19-Sep-13 11:29:22

Anno I came across this quote yesterday:
"Our genes are a pre-disposition, but they are not necessarily our fate"

Of course it works both ways.
If you have a genetic predisposition to a condition, you won't necessarily get it if you modify your risk factors - for example, just because a parent died of heart disease, you won't necessarily succumb provided you reduce as much as possible risk factors like smoking and not getting enough exercise.
Similarly young people who might be thought to have inherited healthy and long-lived genes can blow all that out of the window if they smoke and drink to excess, don't maintain a healthy weight and don't exercise.

FlicketyB Thu 19-Sep-13 13:55:35

I am very fortunate to come from a long lived family who remain mentally and physically healthy, usually until very close to their deaths, but I am also aware that as *janeainsworth says, our genes are our predisposition, not our fates, and my sister died in accident at 45.

But knowing that looking at my very large extended family the genes are so good is an incentive to look after myself.

j08 Thu 19-Sep-13 13:59:35

Anno!!! shock

(remember we had excellent nutrition as kids)

PRINTMISS Thu 19-Sep-13 15:47:49

I do sometimes feel quite guilty at growing old. I have taken care of myself, and my husband, particularly after the children left home, but now appear to be a drain on society, as nearly every day we hear about the cost of the ageing generation, so, apologies for that, but we did work hard to get here, and so far enjoying ourselves.

FlicketyB Thu 19-Sep-13 19:52:18

I think we should hear more about how much older people contribute to the community. Our spending power as a group must be enormous and we must provide employment for hundreds of thousands of people from the obvious, care workers etc but also in the tourist industry, shops, agriculture, car sales etc etc.

absent Thu 19-Sep-13 20:00:11

juneh Why are the elderly a drain on society. No one suggests that all those children who need educating for so many years are a drain on society. That would, of course, be absurd because after their education has been completed and on reaching adulthood they contribute to society. Of course, eventually, they will become elderly but having contributed to society for many many years…

juneh Fri 20-Sep-13 10:10:09

I have always believed that us so called 'older generation' have so much to offer society and yet we are seen to be this so called 'drain on society'
But think about how much we do offer. many of us take care of our grandchildren on a regular basis, look after our older family members. We are in the main propping up many charitable organisations with our voluntary work but in many ways our 'intelligence and previous life experience is discounted' someone told me they felt invisible since reaching retirement and that may be true.
Maybe we should be more obvious in our view of the world, politics, education and welfare state issues. Maybe we do not voice our views loud enough other than the television as an arm chair critic. I think now I could be a politician I know I have the voice but maybe not the stamina or indeed the money.
Perhaps we should form an over fifties group where we stand up for what we see is wrong in society and bring our ideas to the fore front. I heard that what politician fear most is an uprising of the pensioners brigade. It is worth a thought.

FlicketyB Fri 20-Sep-13 11:40:35

Personally, I am very wary of age based special interest groups. Older people are just as diverse in attitudes, and opinions as younger people. I doubt, as an age group, we would have any more ideas in common about what is wrong (or right) about society than any other age group.

I would just like people not to see older people as one amorphous mass. Many families have two generations of elderly people. I was 64 when my father died at the age of 92. We were two different generations and generational differences remained between us until the end.

Not all older people, especially at the younger end, are disabled or need any form of care or have any need to downsize to an easy care warden supported housing. Come to that there are many very old people who are still quite capable of running their homes and lives without younger people who think they know better constantly interfering. My father was more than capable of running his own home, his life and several village organisations until his brief final illness.

Mishap Fri 20-Sep-13 13:45:37

In days of yore, if you survived the grim childhood illnesses you had to be pretty tough and would likely live to a ripe old age!

jeanie99 Sat 21-Sep-13 10:50:18

Living longer isn't a problem it's having a good quality of life that's the important thing.

annodomini Sat 21-Sep-13 11:15:14

'Perhaps we should form an over fifties group where we stand up for what we see is wrong in society and bring our ideas to the fore front.' Juneh, such an organisation exists in the form of the National Pensioners' Convention.

riodaze Sun 05-Jan-14 20:04:04

I will soon be 85. Am I living too long?. If that is so why am I even being considered for a Cochlear Implant, (to enable a profoundly deaf person (child or older) to hear.? ON THE OTHER HAND ......
I have made my decision - I will not proceed to have operation because although it would be wonderful to join in conversation, in groups and to hear on the telephone/ music , 'Cos even at keep fit for oldies, there is music,/ there really is nowhere, apart from visiting a theatre or cinema for an old woman to go.
I live alone, family altho' caring do not live near, so, on thinking realistically as long as I have books to read, subtitles on TV and a computer it seems there is no point going through all that stress when there is no one for me to listen to.

dollie Sun 05-Jan-14 20:12:22

i agree with jeanie to have a good quality of live to live longer....i had an aunt that died a couple of years ago aged 102...

papaoscar Sun 05-Jan-14 20:19:49

All credit to you, Riodaze, for making your own decisions, continuing to enjoy your hobbies and maintaining your self respect. You're not living too long, you are a very good example to the rest of us. I wish you many more happy days. Well done!