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Ageing well

24 October 2012

Living longer without good health is becoming a personal and collective problem that organisations must respond to. While the Office for National Statistics puts current female life expectancy at birth as 82 and 78 for men, the fastest growing part of the UK population is the 85+ group.

47% of people aged 75+ have a limiting long-standing illness – 40% of all people aged 65+. Over two thirds of people aged 85 and over in the UK have a disability or limiting longstanding illness.

In 2011, 24% of older people in the UK reported that their quality of life had got worse over the past year. Loneliness is now recognized as having a similar health impact as smoking. With over 1 million people over 65 saying they are often or always lonely, significant work needs to be done to tackle this growing issue. But there are promising new projects being set up to tackle these issues.

Inspired by the Olympic Games, GlaxoSmithKline has launched ‘Your Personal Best’ – a national awareness campaign in association with NHS London, to inspire 7.8 million people aged 55+ with long-term health conditions to lead a more active lifestyle.

David Lloyd Leisure offers some 10,000 exercise classes each week, including conditioning and dance classes specially tailored for older users – promoting flexibility, strength and keeping fit. They are also members of Age UK’s Engage Business Network.

The Good Gym arose out of frustration with normal gyms being a waste of energy and the recognition of isolation and loneliness amongst older people. The Good Gym pairs joggers with isolated people in their area, asking runners to pop in for a chat during their daily exercise. It helps people get fit by providing a good reason to go for a run and it helps the person being visited by providing them with some friendly human contact and a newspaper or piece of fruit.

Fit as a Fiddle is a nationwide programme supporting people aged 50+ with physical activity, healthy eating and mental wellbeing. Funded by the Big Lottery, it hosts innovative projects to promote healthy ageing and improve independence based around needs and ideas of local people.