Scotland

With Scots living longer, is 75 the new middle age?

  • 20 March 2011
  • From the section Scotland
Many more people are enjoying a longer life, thanks to modern medicine

Many more Scots are enjoying an active retirement and a longer life, thanks largely to modern medicine, according to a survey.

Four out of 10 75-year-olds consider themselves to be "middle-aged", according to research carried out for think-tank Scotland's Futures Forum.

However it found longer lifespans were presenting challenges as well as opportunities.

Professor June Andrews, director of the Dementia Centre at Stirling University, said the fact that Scotland has got an ageing population is a "great success story".

But she added: "It means that we're surviving the things people used to die of, but it does mean we're going to have to make arrangements to deal with the normal effects of ageing and the disabilities which are more prevalent, such as dementia."

One in five people in the Borders are over retirement age, compared to one in six in Scotland as a whole

Dr Alan Mason has been a GP in Eyemouth for 30 years.

"When I first came here 30 years ago there were 60 or 70 over-75 year-olds," he said.

"Now we have 600 over-75s and 60 people who are over 90.

"In the old days we used to see people with acute illnesses - something which would come on quite suddenly and we could get better quite quickly.

"Now it's much more about managing chronic diseases: heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, diabetes."

But it is not just the state which needs to prepare for our longer lifespans.

As an independent financial advisor, John Douglas sees many people who wait too long before preparing for their retirement.

He said: "I do, sadly, see cases that are referred to me where the frustration - from a financial advice point of view - is that I know that their circumstances would be radically different if I had met them 15 or 20 years ago."

In just a decade, half of us will be over the age of 50.

The over 50s will be the biggest consumer group, the biggest users of healthcare and the people most likely to vote in elections.

With the next Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May, it is food for thought for Scotland's politicians.

'Is 75 The New Middle Age?' will be broadcast on BBC1 Scotland at 1930 GMT on Monday 21 March

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