Wednesday 21 February 2018

Concern as life expectancy for women is dropping

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Laura Donnelly

Life expectancy for women has suffered a drop on a scale not seen for decades, as their lifestyles become more like those of men, official figures show.

In 2012 there were falls in average life expectancy for females in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, new figures show.

A drop in all such age groups had not been seen since 1995.

It means the average woman aged 75 can expect to live 13.1 more years; five weeks less than in 2011. For a woman aged 85, average life expectancy is now 6.8 years - a fall of two-and-a-half months, in two years.

Experts said the trend could be the result of changes in the lifestyles of the "baby boomer" generation, with older women more likely to drink regularly and to have smoked than previous generations. Charities also raised concerns that older people are having their lives cut short by reductions in social care spending and poor standards in care homes. Meanwhile, increases among men in their 60s and 70s stalled, the statistics show, while life expectancy reduced among older men.

The deteriorating picture disclosed in a report by health officials follows three decades which have seen annual average life expectancy increases of 1.2pc for men and 0.7pc for women. Prof John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said the fall in women's life expectancy might reflect changes in the lifestyles of the baby boomer generation, which were taking their toll decades later. "One of the issues we have seen is women living lifestyles becoming more like those of men over recent decades, with more smoking and drinking," he said.

Irish Independent

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