Friday 9 December 2016

An ageing population is a reality, so we must change the way we think about age... and get old

Life expectancy has increased by four years since 2000 and we need to see older people as assets - not as looming liabilities, writes Pfizer chief Dr Paul Duffy

Dr Paul Duffy

Published 21/06/2015 | 02:30

'If we stay healthy and use lifelong learning to keep skills up to date we enjoy lead long and meaningful lives,' says Dr Paul Duffy. Photo: Mark Condren
'If we stay healthy and use lifelong learning to keep skills up to date we enjoy lead long and meaningful lives,' says Dr Paul Duffy. Photo: Mark Condren

The way society views older people is overwhelmingly negative. We speak of elderly people representing an additional cost burden on the health system, we talk of "pensions time bombs", increased longevity is perceived as a problem for economies - and there is almost never any mention of the positive contribution they continue to make.

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There are a few small signs of a change in this attitude. There appears to be a growing appreciation of the role that grandparents play in childcare, as well as for the work they do as carers, both of spouses and other relatives.

But this doesn't mean the oldest and most experienced members of our society are viewed as an asset, just less negatively.

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