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To get annoyed when the media tells us we're all living longer.

(28 Posts)
BumpNGrind Thu 09-Oct-14 13:44:04

I know that statistically people in Britain do live longer now, but I think the way it's reported is often really ignorant to the real picture or used to justify things that shouldn't be justified.

I live in the South Wales valleys where there is a 10 year age expectancy difference from one end of the valley to the other. I know that similar life expectancy differences exist in parts of London and elsewhere because of poverty, so clearly we aren't all living longer, yet the media never report this side of the story.

Also, although some people do live longer, many of them live longer with debilitating, painful conditions that need careful management and a huge fuss is always made about how much this costs, but it seems that the Governments answer for this is to increase the retirement age, rather than employ more young people. I want to see more older people able to work, but not forced to!

I also feel like members of parliament have altered ideas of how old a person can reasonably be expected to work for because they see lots of older, capable people managing just fine in the House of Commons, that simply isn't the case if you are a fireman, electrician, carpet fitter etc.

Anyone else find this annoying or is it just me?

OP’s posts: |
NorwaySpruce Thu 09-Oct-14 13:49:39

Well we are generally living longer these days, and in better health.

My grandparents were rather elderly at 65, my parents at the same age are a world away from that stage and still perfectly capable of doing everything they were doing twenty or thirty years ago.

The jobs thing is a different issue. The vast majority of people will soon have to work past 65, especially if they rent.

StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 14:01:39

There were always considerable discrepancies though - that's been the case for a very long time. In general we are living longer

BumpNGrind Thu 09-Oct-14 14:03:05

It's the generalisation that really gets to me though. My ddad died suddenly, without warning at 61, he didn't even have grey hair and died so suddenly he didn't even have a day off work beforehand. Yet the media still make out that older people are capable of all the same things they might have been capable of when they were 20 years younger.

Especially for those who work in manual jobs, I'd like to see a better understanding of the tiring nature of working longer, and for the media not just to generalise and say that we're all living longer because we aren't.

OP’s posts: |
meglet Thu 09-Oct-14 14:05:06

Actually yanbu.

I wonder what percentage of pensioners have a healthy old age?In their 60's and 70's anyway, 20% ish. <Ponders>.

StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 14:06:21

There needs to be consideration for retraining etc those in manual jobs to go along side the increase in state pension age. But unless the media spent half an hour caveating and discussing individual stories every time they mentioned increased life expectancy they have to generalise, and in general they are going up.

Sadly, there will always be people who pass away far earlier than average ; I lost my brother when he was just 41.

Moreisnnogedag Thu 09-Oct-14 14:18:51

Sorry about your dad.

But actually I'd say people are on the whole living longer in better health. Look at the increasing number of joint replacements - most people need to be in reasonably good health to be offered one and more and more are being done in 80 year olds.

NewEraNewMindset Thu 09-Oct-14 14:22:07

I think that's one of the reasons the government are actually panicking about the obesity epidemic as they know this going to lead to lots of work age people needing specialist health care and if they develop a diabetes for example that isn't carefully managed, we will be looking at many disabled people in the future not paying taxes and needing care.

MrsPiggie Thu 09-Oct-14 14:23:47

But I guess, without having any statistics handy, that even those in hard manual jobs live longer than the previous generation in the same job. Across the board we do live longer and have a better quality of life in the old age. Maybe there should be a different retirement age for people in hard jobs, that would be a good progressive measure, but it doesn't mean that the current provisions disadvantage workers more than a generation ago.

manicinsomniac Thu 09-Oct-14 14:31:21

Statistics are general though aren't they. Of course there are difference.

My Dad died at 52.

The Mum of a little girl in my class died at 30.

A little boy in our school died at 10.

A friend's little boy died at 2 weeks old.

None of those progressively sadder and sadder anecdotes change the fact that, in general, people are living longer.

cailindana Thu 09-Oct-14 14:31:35

It's not so much that we're living longer, it's that things are less effective at killing us these days. It's a subtle distinction but an important one.

In the 50s the amount of things that could kill you right from the day you were born were many - the whole range of childhood illnesses along with malnutrition, poor living conditions etc. Illnesses we now consider chronic - asthma, diabetes, coeliac disease - had poor levels of diagnosis and were not well managed, so they could easily kill you before you got to your 20s. If you had a serious car accident or a catastrophic event like a brain haemmorhage your chances of survival were very slim. Death in childbirth was relatively common, and if you got cancer, generally, you were a goner. Now that general healthcare is good a condition has to be pretty serious before it'll do you in, which means more people are making it to 50 and beyond than ever before.

The thing we need to look at now is quality of life. Simply living isn't enough IMO, and we've tipped over into a situation where you're more likely to live a difficult, painful, restricted life than to die. Whether that's desirable is a personal matter and a matter for general debate, in terms of rights to die etc.

I agree about the working situation, but that's an economic problem rather than a health one.

BumpNGrind Thu 09-Oct-14 14:31:38

I do get that, it's just really frustrating when some politician with no real life experience of working life thinks that working in the House of Commons, a place where you are mentally stimulated and don't have to do any physical lifting, is akin to working on a building site or sewer. Increasing retirement age for everyone just simply isn't an option.

I also hate the way the media says about us all living longer, but they never show how where you live can greatly affect that, or the reasons why. They never show the difference between living a comfortable life in a nice, warm house with good food and good care, compared to living in a place where there aren't even working train lines because it's no economically deprived, where houses cost diddly squat so you don't have any options about selling up and using the money because it's not worth it, or when you don't have access or even knowledge of a healthy diet. For some people, living longer is almost a cruel joke. They have to work longer, suffer longer and struggle longer. My local council is even cutting meals on wheels so more extremely vulnerable people will be isolated, left without a hot meal for the weekend and lonely. Hardly the kind of life I'd wish for myself when I'm an older person.

I agree with retraining being available, but when we have a absolute crisis on our hands with youth unemployment, there's hardly any jobs anyway and we have an older population, I don't see that retraining is the absolute priority there, I'd rather see younger people working and older people supported better.

OP’s posts: |
StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 14:38:32

they never show how where you live can greatly affect that, or the reasons why

I'm up in Scotland, and I've seen a lot of reporting on this - particularly focused around Glasgow which has very noticeable inequality issues in terms of life expectancy.

Realistically, the pension age has to increase. Even if all of the young people were working we have a demographic situation that means they'd struggle to pay for the older population and that's getting worse. this ons population pyramid is quite good - if you move the slider you can see how the composition of the population is changing.

BumpNGrind Thu 09-Oct-14 14:46:53

Thanks for the link statistically, I'm on my phone now but will take a proper look later.

Where are all the jobs coming from though? My DM is working and could have retired 4 years ago, and that's great but when she does retire she's already been told that her post will be classed as 'natural wastage' and nobody is going to be recruited in her place. Our public services are getting smaller not bigger so there's more competition for jobs. I don't want to see older people who chose to work forced out of a job, but I don't want to see younger people forced into a life on the dole because of no jobs either.

OP’s posts: |
NewEraNewMindset Thu 09-Oct-14 15:04:57

Cailin has written an excellent post.

I really believe that in the future we should be allowed to opt for euthanasia. I honestly think it's the only way we will be able to manage the population and I also think it should be a human right to end our own suffering in certain circumstances.

cailindana Thu 09-Oct-14 15:10:32

I agree Mindset. In a world where extreme suffering = death then it makes sense to fight for life because death will always win out at a certain point. There's sort of a natural control mechanism that takes things out of our hands. However, nowadays extreme suffering does not always equal death. We are able to keep very very ill people alive for a long time. As such we have a god-like power to control when a person dies, which brings with it a whole range of complicated moral problems that simply weren't faced in the past.

StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 15:10:46

Public sector headcount has decreased, but private sector has increased - according to ONS the total number of jobs is up:

Total number of jobs in thousands:

200027,528
200127,699
200227,881
200328,194
200428,419
200528,776
200629,030
200729,205
200829,508
200928,831
201029,118
201129,130
201229,560
201329,836
201430,609

The jobs issue is...not separate because obviously it is interlinked, but it's sort of different. The latest stats from August were 955,000 NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or training) aged 16-24. Compare this to the older populations for 2014

60 - 707,800
61 - 692,300
62 - 682,700
63 - 683,500
64 - 698,800
65 - 715,000
66 - 760,500

Imagine if all of those people were able to retire suddenly? Sure, the younger people could theoretically get jobs but it would leave us with a huge hole in the public finances - if you think about it at a basic level even if all those young people were employed they wouldn't cover the equivalent pensions through their taxes.

NewEraNewMindset Thu 09-Oct-14 15:14:01

Cailin you have really explained that well. When people scream we should not play God, and yet Doctors are surely playing God even when it comes to administering antibiotics, in the past a simple infection would have killed.

StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 15:15:31

Argh, why does mumsnet delete spaces when you put in numbers, it's soooo annoying! Those job figures were...

2000 - 27,528
2001 - 27,699
2002 - 27,881
2003 - 28,194
2004 - 28,419
2005 - 28,776
2006 - 29,030
2007 - 29,205
2008 - 29,508
2009 - 28,831
2010 - 29,118
2011 - 29,130
2012 - 29,560
2013 - 29,836
2014 - 30,609

duhgldiuhfdsli Thu 09-Oct-14 15:25:04

Glasgow which has very noticeable inequality issues in terms of life expectancy.

Scotland is has the highest death rates from alcohol-related liver cirrhosis in Western Europe, and rates of smoking are savagely high. It is lazy stereotyping to pretend that either of these things isn't a choice.

www.nhsggc.org.uk/content/default.asp?page=s1202_6

StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 15:30:43

I'm hoping that was a general comment rather than aimed at me specifically? I was only using Glasgow as an example of somewhere which is very heavily discussed with regards to the differences in life expectancy as the OP suggested it's not discussed. Glasgow is a bit of a special case and there has been a lot of research which has struggled to explain fully why it has such significant issues (in some areas - the differences across the city are dramatic) even compared to the rest of Scotland/the UK

MewlingQuim Thu 09-Oct-14 15:58:24

Medical advances mean that people are less likely to die of illness and accident at a young age, and that pushes the average life expectancy up. It's not just that people are living longer (although that is also true).

For example, a population with a life expectancy of 40 is likely to have high child mortality, it doesn't mean that there is no elderly people. A population with a life expectancy of 80 is likely to have low child mortality, not necessarily multitudes of centenarians.

We are, on average more likely to live longer and to stay in good health for longer.

I still object to raising the retirement age when there are so many young people struggling to find work. Bonkers.

BumpNGrind Thu 09-Oct-14 16:04:49

Duhgldiuhfdsli I question how much choice so done really has. I live in the South Wales Valleys, it's lost most of the heavy industry it once relied on, jobs are low paid, public transport is non existent and times are very hard for lots of people. There are reasons why people turn to food, alcohol or drugs. I don't think anyone wakes up one day and chooses to be obese, alcohol dependent or addicted to drugs, nobody I know anyway. It's not a clear cut choice, you wouldn't say that a woman who stays with a violent partner has a choice in whether she is beaten or not, because there's an understanding of the emotions and controlling influences that must be in place for her to be in that position.

Cailin, you make a very sensible point about dr's playing god. For those who do get the opportunity to grow older, it isn't always the golden ticket that we all hope it's going to be.

OP’s posts: |
StatisticallyChallenged Thu 09-Oct-14 16:06:14

Think about how much a young unemployed person gets in benefits compared to the value of state pension plus associated tops ups etc which can be claimed. An out of work 18 year old is, year on year, cheaper than an extra pensioner.

Crowen85 Thu 09-Oct-14 16:06:40

Well we are living Longer! sorry to disappoint you lol.

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