Across the globe some 72% of people aged 65 and over do not consider themselves old with France emerging as the most young at heart nation, an international health survey shows.
Over 65s are living for today not planning for tomorrow and believe that 80 is the new 65, the survey from international healthcare provider Bupa also shows.
Bupa though is warning that this young at heart generation, many of whom are expats, need to prepare for what is calls ‘the care crunch’.
In France, some 32% of people said that you are only ‘old’ when you’re over 80. But 65% of people in China believe old age starts before the age of 60 and China is the least young at heart nation.
Brazilians are those most looking forward to old age, with some 17% compared to 3% globally. While those in India are the least bothered of all countries surveyed about getting older, with some 70% not bothered.
Despite this largely positive outlook towards ageing though, the majority of people around the world are failing to plan for the realities of old age. Fewer than a quarter, 22%, of over 65s have put money aside to prepare for old age. Two thirds, 66%, are assuming that their families will be there to shoulder the burden of care.
Russia lags behind all countries surveyed with two thirds admitting they have failed to make any preparations at all, while India bucks the trend completely with the majority, 71%, of Indians stating they have already made some kind of preparation for their later years.
The Bupa sponsored report carried out in conjunction with the London School of Economics (LSE) also reveals that the informal care network of families looking after the elderly is disintegrating. This is due to a number of factors, including the number of older people in need of care growing faster than the number of potential carers from younger generations, the growth of women in employment and the increase of one person households.
‘We are seeing the start of a global care crunch with people across the world failing to plan for their old age. It’s really refreshing to see that many are leading longer, healthier and happier lives but we mustn’t become complacent,’ said Dr. Sneh Khemka, Medical Director of Bupa International.
‘People now need to start thinking about who will care for them, when they are no longer able to look after themselves. We talk about our pensions but not our long term care needs. The risk is that families will be in danger of not being able to deal with the specialist care needs of their elderly relatives,’ she added.
According to Jose-Luis Fernandez, principal research fellow at the LSE, a combination of societal and economic factors, including demographic changes, the breakdown of the extended family, and the rise in divorce rates, migration and women in the workplace, are eroding the family supported structures that have provided historically the bulk of the care for dependent older people.
‘With state social care systems also under huge financial strain, a global challenge is emerging about how to support dependent older people in the future,’ he added.