Viewing 65 as the marker for old age is an outdated notion, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said, as new data suggests the health of a 70-year-old today is comparable to that of someone five years their junior a decade ago. The report has renewed calls from experts for employers to reconsider their attitudes towards older workers and those who choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age. The analysis of health data and life expectancy by the ONS found that men in England and Wales aged 70 in 2017 had the same remaining life expectancy – 15 years – as a 65-year-old did in 1997.
Similarly, women aged 70 had the same remaining life expectancy as a 65-year-old in 1981. The report also found that men and women were now comparably healthier in their older age. In 1981, 45% of people aged 65 to 85 had poor general health, compared to 39% today. Levels of poor health for women aged 70 in 2017 were the same as those aged 60 in 1981, while men the same age had comparable health to those who were 65 in 1997. While highlighting the limitations of its own analysis, the report said the age of 70 now “appears to be the new 65 (or even younger) in terms of health”. The ONS predicted that, by 2050, those over the age of 65 will make up almost a quarter of the population, while the number of people aged 85 and over is growing faster than any other age group.