Thursday 19 April 2018

One in 10 people in their 70s still working due to financial pressure

Most elderly people reported having an optimistic outlook on life Photo: PA
Most elderly people reported having an optimistic outlook on life Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Nearly one in 10 Irish people in their early to mid-70s is still working - almost twice the EU average.

Three times more elderly men than women are still clocking in.

The extent of our silver-haired workforce is highlighted in a new report on the health and wellbeing of the over-50s.

The findings from the National Positive Indicators Report suggest financial pressure may be one of the reasons why many pensioners still face the daily grind.


The report provides a mixed snapshot of the so-called "baby boom" generation.

Most say they have an optimistic outlook and regard ageing as a time of personal growth.

But behind the smiles the figures show many are also struggling with bad health and poor lifestyle habits.

More than one in eight over-50s are turning to alcohol and describe themselves as problem drinkers.

Since 2011, the proportion of this generation admitting to having "problematic" alcohol use has increased from 11.4pc to 13.5pc.

And 17pc are still smoking, a legacy from their younger years when lighting up was more the norm.

Nearly half of those in the over-50s category are overweight and more than a third are obese.

Two thirds are not taking enough exercise. Some 61pc have a chronic disease and a quarter report severe to moderate pain.

Nearly one in 10 has moderate to severe levels of anxiety.

As hospital waiting lists and delays for other services soar, many are enduring long queues for basic care including home help.

Nearly one in five had difficulty seeing a doctor in the past year due to various factors, including being on a hospital waiting list.

While nine out of 10 people aged over-50 have at least one supportive relative or friend many also often feel lonely.

Nearly one in 10 suffers from symptoms of depression.

There are high levels of stress and distress among carers with 27pc saying they are under strong pressure.

They are also a generous generation with one third providing care for their grandchildren, while more than a quarter are involved in volunteer work.

But their kindness is not always repaid by wider society and nearly half have suffered discrimination because of their age.

The number of people in Ireland over 65 years is expected to double, reaching 1.4 million by 2040. Our population of over-80s will quadruple over the same time.

An Irish person aged 65 today can expect to live another 21.1 years for females and 18.1 years for males.

But when this is broken down to "healthy" years - where they will not be burdened by illness or disability - it reduces to 12.3 years for women and 11.4 for men.

Minister for Older People Helen McEntee launched the report.

She said: "A good quality of life and maximising independence is what we must work to achieve.

"We need to develop strong devolved local government capable of engaging all in bringing about changes in planning, health, housing, transport, safety and public space management."

Bob Gilbert, of the National Network of Older People's Councils, said: "Ageing isn't a choice or an achievement.

"It is a fact and it comes to us all."

Key findings

- Three quarters say ageing is time of personal growth

- Eight in 10 report high life satisfaction

- 19pc say they do not have enough money to live a full life

- Growing numbers have alcohol problems

- High numbers of over-50s still smoke

- One in 10 has severe depression

- Eight in 10 say health is good or very good

- Six in 10 have a chronic disease

- Many are overweight or obese

- A majority are not taking enough exercise

- Nearly one in 10 people in their early to mid-70s is still working

- Many are on waiting lists for a specialist or home help

Irish Independent

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