Global research gives valuable insights into an ageing population for those in the mobility industry
Ipsos MORI has conducted a new global study, ‘The Perennials: The future of ageing,’ in collaboration with the Centre for Ageing Better, to gather insights into attitudes towards ageing across 30 different countries.
Attitudes towards ageing
According to the research, Britons view old age negatively, with 30 percent of the respondents saying that they are looking forward to old age, while over double (68 percent) disagreed with this statement.
On top of this, just under 40 percent of Britons are expecting to be fit and healthy in old age, while one in five people disagree with this statement. Half of the participants are also worried about becoming old.
When asked about the good things about old age, Britons mentioned giving up work (42 percent), more time for hobbies and leisure (37 percent) and spending time with friends and family (32 percent).
In contrast, almost one third of Britons (31 percent) are concerned about losing their mobility with regards to old age. People also noted financial worries (29 percent) and memory loss (26 percent).
Interestingly, half of the British respondents believe that technological developments will help them with their old age, with just 11 percent disagreeing.
Additionally, two thirds of Britons think that the quality of later life is in their own hands; 68 percent think that it is possible for people to prepare for old age, including one in five who think that there is a great deal that they can do.
22 percent of Britons, however, think that it is not possible to prepare, including 7 percent who state it is all down to luck.
Suzanne Hall, Director at Ipsos MORI, said: “The growth of the ageing population is one of our greatest achievements. However, it also presents society, business and brands with significant challenges as well.
“Our research shows that, globally, there is a great deal of negativity towards later life, with financial and health concerns prevalent. Feeding into this negativity is a sense that the media does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential. It is therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’ and ‘unfairly treated’ along with ‘wise’.
“There are reasons for optimism, however. More people globally have faith in the power of technology to improve the lives of the elderly. People also tend to think that there are things that they can do to ensure they are prepared for old age – though there is a gap between what we know we should be doing, and what we are doing in practice.
“Later life should be our golden years – but there is clearly much work to be done for this time in our life to be seen as such.”
One of the key points from the study emphasises that although people are living for longer, this does not equate to being healthy in these additional years. This is known as healthspan – the number of healthy years lived.
In 2010, the Global Burden of Disease study found that while life expectancy has increased in 19 of 21 regions around the world, people are living their later years in poorer health.
However, Ipsos MORI and the Centre for Ageing Better outline that people can do things to improve their healthspan. This includes increasing physical activity, staying connected with family and friends, eating well and learning new skills.
Home aids and adaptations
As well as people improving healthspan themselves, home aids and adaptations have played a significant role in enabling people to stay mobile in their homes independently for longer, the study underlines. These aids and adaptations can include anything from hand rails, grab rails and lighting improvements to stairlifts, wet rooms and level access showers.
However, according to Ipsos MORI, a lot of people are put off by home adaptations due to negative associations and stigmas. For example, people may feel as though the devices are a harsh reminder of an increase in vulnerability and a loss of independence. People may also be put off by the clinical appearance of certain products.
Despite this, research from the Centre for Ageing Better has shown that once the adaptations are installed, they can have a life-changing impact. As well as reducing the risk of falls and increasing mobility, adaptations also help people to feel more independent, more in control and, in some cases, enable people to increase their social participation.