October 2018

Older?Older?

By the year 2050, for the first time in human history, there will be more people over 60 years of age than children in the world. Almost 700 million people are currently over the age of 60, but within just 30 years or so, two billion people (over 20% of the world's population) will be 60 or older. These United Nations statistics give some insight into the changing dynamics of the world around us. A UN analysis of these figures goes on to urge that "enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required."

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish 1 October as the International Day of Older Persons. But here in Wanstead and across Redbridge, this annual mark of respect for our elders has grown into a six-day celebration of maturity, recognising the achievements of older people and the contributions they make to society and the economy (£61bn, in case you were wondering, according to Age UK's chief economist). From comedy to quizzes, music and yoga, the Older People's Week programme of events for our borough's senior residents is as diverse as it is honourable in its ethos that age is "no barrier to being involved in community life."

Many see ageing as something negative, an association with decline and loss. Yet, psychologists tell us we should keep following our dreams, whatever our age. Anne Karpf, author of How to Age, puts it best in this anecdote: "A 100-year-old woman was being interviewed on radio when she was asked if she had regrets. 'If I'd known I'd live to 100, I'd have taken up the violin at 40,' she said. 'By now, I'd have been playing for 60 years!'" Happy ageing.