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A startling vision of the lives led by Britain's senior citizens will be unveiled today in Older fun report published by a group of the country's leading experts on ageing. Far Older fun having lonely, decrepit existences, assailed by memory loss and physical infirmity, vast numbers Older fun the elderly in the UK are living long, healthy, productive lives, it will be revealed.

The stereotypical image of a nation in which rising numbers of pensioners are being kept alive by modern medicine — but are crippled by arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's, and live huddled and defenceless in old people's homes — is simply not true.

But the study, by the Academy of Medical Sciences, also warns that Britain still needs to do far more to ensure this trend is maintained. Unless the UK establishes a cadre of top scientists, doctors and engineers dedicated to tackling the problems of old age, the country could lose this momentum, it warns.

More promising young scientists, centres of excellence and grant-giving organisations — all dedicated to ageing research — are now urgently Older fun in order to head off a looming crisis.

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As the report, Rejuvenating Ageing Research states, the average life expectancy in the UK is now increasing at more than five hours a day, every day — a pattern seen in many other countries.

As a result, by ageing populations are likely to cost advanced economies "around nine times more than the current economic downturn". Dealing with our ageing population will need care. At present, however, Britain is doing far better than expected with regard to the problem, the group stressed. Large Older fun of elderly people are living healthy, happy Older fun productive lives. People are living longer. At the same time, Older fun also are living healthier, more productive lives.

This point is backed by a surprising body of statistics, she added. For example, Older fun is known that the people of Britain are getting older and older, a trend which suggests a far higher proportion of the general population should now be living in old people's homes today than in the past. In fact, this improvement in disability has been surprisingly emphatic, according to gerontologist Professor Kay-Tee Khaw of Cambridge University, a member Older fun the working group.

Indeed, many are positively relishing their lives today. An example is provided by Diana Cornwell, who will be 77 tomorrow.

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She wears fashionable Older fun, exercises every day, plays golf twice a week, volunteers for a charity, drives, spends weekends visiting sights around the country and will celebrate her birthday by going out for a meal with her year-old husband, Maurice.

Of course, being in your 70s is nothing like it once was, she added.

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So Older fun I got to my 60s I was anxious. Losing weight also solved problems she had with her hip.

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I have painted my fingernails and toenails purple and my hair is dyed blonde. Older fun am not a dolly bird, but I am happy with how I Older fun. We are lucky medicine has improved so much. In fact, medical interventions and lifestyle changes have both played crucial roles in bringing Older fun old age to so many. Drugs that counter high blood pressure and cardiac complaints have produced startling reductions in deaths from heart disease, for example.

At the same time, lifestyle changes are also making an impact: This connection between factors such as diet Older fun loss of mental function may seem unlikely but it is real, added Tallis. The result is emphatic, said Partridge.

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More importantly, we are now shaping up to a future in which year-olds will live as year-olds do today. This might Older fun ambitious, though, according Older fun Partridge, in the past decade Older fun had made remarkable breakthroughs that suggested it is an achievable goal.

Research on animals, particularly recent studies on monkeys, has indicated that dietary regimes will produce improvements in longevity and health. This is also true for humans.

This gives us the chance to develop drugs that can emulate the activity of these genes. The working group also highlights another key point in its report. While deadly infectious diseases have largely been conquered in Britain, chronic ailments including heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancers remain killers — Older fun a key factor affecting morbidity in these ailments is old age. Essentially, doctors and scientists were trying to achieve "compression of morbidity", added Tallis. After all, that is how most people want to live and die and, Older fun course, it is also attractive economically.

The Older fun time we spend in hospital the happier we are and the less we cost the state. Such a goal will still require a change in attitude to old age in Britain, the report warns — a point backed by Partridge.

When we look at an old person who is ill, we subconsciously think: By contrast, in America there is more a feeling Older fun there should be a moral imperative towards helping to improve ill-health, including those aspects associated with old age. So we need to co-ordinate our work in a better manner. What must Older fun avoided at all costs, states the report, is the nightmare scenario in which life expectancy continues to increase but without the associated improvements in health that are currently being observed in the elderly.

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To make sure this happens, the working group proposes a series of measures which Older fun setting up more centres of excellence in ageing research, attracting senior scientists from other specialities into the field, Older fun the establishment of dedicated funding agencies. In general, the report is optimistic, however. The nation has "much less to fear Older fun the ageing population than some anticipate.

Indeed, if healthy life expectancy increases rapidly enough, then the ageing population becomes an economic and social opportunity rather than a challenge. But you can — people already do — have a good quality of life in your 70s. I don't want to live tobut I would like the end of my life to be active and valid.

But if they think about it, it is Older fun diseases of old age they are really scared of rather than death. And Diana Cornwell agrees. The most important thing for Older fun is that she has quality of life. She says that she and Maurice — who both enjoy crosswords and Sudoku puzzles — fear losing their mental ability above all else. As far as Alzheimer's is concerned, both my husband and I agree that we would prefer an assisted suicide.

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When the time comes Older fun would rather not be here — but I ain't there yet! It's a Older fun birthday, the perfect time to take stock of one's life so far.


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