Prepare for the march of the centenarians

Old age will be no age at all
Old age will be no age at all
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No wonder millions flocked to buy shares in Saga last year.

As the figures for cancer and heart disease continue to soar and last Thursday a big, fat slice of the population embarked on yet another diet because obesity is killing us, as a nation we’re living longer than ever before.

The Office for National Statistics reckons that in 2014, 13,780 people in the UK reached a century and beyond, marking a 70 per cent rise in centenarians in just over a decade.

If your jaw dropped in incredulity at that, reach for the Super Poligrip pronto: statisticians predict that more than a third of the UK’s 797,000 children born in 2013 will get to see 100 candles on their birthday cake. Imagine that: 274,000 of them receiving celebratory emails from King George (assuming he’s one of the lucky third).

But we need to prepare for this army of superbabes marching merrily on into the next Millennium.

Everyone needs to rethink their attitude to ageing. It may always be that the young will rule the world, but a huge percentage of their kingdom is going to be populated by older people.

Forward-thinking businesses and start-up entrepreneurs should be all over this NOW. There are huge commercial opportunities. And it’s not only about providing nursing homes and devising better hip joints.

A percentage of the older population will always be frail and in need of support. But a growing sector, the sprightly and adventurous one which was savvy with pensions and investments (including inherited Saga shares) will be demanding specially-tailored lifestyle services and luxury purchases on which to extravagantly spend the Grey Pound.

Right now is the time to start. I have family members searching for an assisted living village to move to; we can only find two in the city. Why?

On the jobs front, there’s a dire need for age retention. Instead of sending workers to the scrapheap in their 60s, employers must immediately tackle their own ageism and focus on retaining older workers and their vast pool of knowledge and experience, giving retraining and reducing stress where necessary.

In 2015, it’s time for a younger approach to ageing.