As we get older, we can't avoid noticing the effects of our own ageing and, perhaps, wondering how we are going to cope in the future.
A positive first step is assessing how, as individuals, we sit within the bigger picture. As sobering as the statistics may be it is important to face up to them. These are the facts (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 850,000 people living with a dementia, and the number is set to more than double to 2 million by 2051
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:
- someone noticing the effects of ageing and wondering how you'll cope in the future;
- a care home manager seeking to meet the spiritual needs of your residents;
- 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'.