Society is changing in that there is a rapidly ageing population. Churches see this in terms of faces in the pews, as well as the pastoral needs of older people in their worshipping and wider communities.
A positive first step towards responding to this is looking at the bigger picture (from Age UK):
- People aged 50 or over will comprise more than half the adult population in less than 20 years
- In the UK, there are now more people aged 60 and above than there are under 18
- Over-65s will make up one-third of the population in developed countries by 2050
- In 30 years, there will be double the number of over-75s in the UK
- The number of people over 85 is expected to double in the next 20 years, and nearly treble in the next 30
- About 3.8 million older people currently live alone and 70% of these are women
- There are 800,000 people living with a dementia, and the number is set to more than double to 1.7 million by 2050
A changed perspective
Rather than remain boggled by the figures though, we can choose to rise to the challenge to change life for the better, whether you are:
- a church member indignant that not enough is being done for older people locally;
- a church leader wanting to make the most of the gifts of older people in your congregations, as well as reaching out to meet the needs of others who are ageing in your community (especially the most marginalised).
Together, we can dispel some of the fear surrounding getting older. We can aspire to lead lives that are more intense and rewarding. We can help all ages to appreciate the fruits of older age, and see long life as a crowning achievement. The goal is none other than a life lived deeply and well (see About).
To live in the light of eternity is our task on earth.
The Gift of Years aims to help people see life as a spiritual journey, and to regard the later stages of life as just as important as the first.
Join us in getting the message across that 'older people matter'.