15 min­utes ‘added to our life ex­pectancy ev­ery hour’

Ba­bies who are born to­day will live un­til 104, claims age­ing ex­pert

Daily Mail - - News - By Tom Payne

LIFE ex­pectancy is in­creas­ing at a rate of fif­teen min­utes each hour, ac­cord­ing to an age­ing ex­pert.

Ba­bies born to­day are now ex­pected to live to 104 on av­er­age, Pro­fes­sor Sarah Harper of Ox­ford Univer­sity said.

She warned that peo­ple liv­ing longer will trig­ger huge chal­lenges for so­ci­ety and we will have to re­think how we lead our lives, such as whether mar­riage should last for a life­time.

Peo­ple could spend much of their lives as pen­sion­ers, while some may not in­herit from grand­par­ents un­til they are in their 80s. By the end of the cen­tury there will be 1.5 mil­lion cen­te­nar­i­ans in the UK. Cur­rently there are 14,500.

Speak­ing at the Hay Fes­ti­val, Pro­fes­sor Harper, who founded Ox­ford’s In­sti­tute of Age­ing, said we are ‘push­ing back death con­sid­er­ably’ and half the pop­u­la­tion now could reach their eight­ies.

She said: ‘We are gain­ing roughly 2.5 years of life ex­pectancy per decade, or fif­teen min­utes an hour. Pre­dic­tions sug­gest that, of the ba­bies that are cur­rently be­ing born, the real life ex­pectancy will be 104. In Ja­pan it is 107.

‘ We are re­ally talk­ing about ex­tend­ing lives in a way we haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. We have to start ask­ing our­selves about the worlds we are go­ing to live in with these very long lives.

‘We take it for granted that we will pass power, as­sets and sta­tus down the gen­er­a­tions at reg­u­lar tim­ings. What hap­pens when you don’t in­herit from your grand­par­ents un­til you’re in your eight­ies? What hap­pens in our work­places? What hap­pens in our so­ci­eties, when we have these huge long gaps?’ She added that di­vorce rates could rise and that ‘even the in­sti­tu­tion of mar­riage’ – and whether we want to stick with a part­ner for so many decades – needs to be thought about.

Pro­fes­sor Harper, who re­cently led a study for the Govern­ment on the ef­fects of age­ing, said robotics will be ‘very ben­e­fi­cial’ for help­ing older peo­ple stay in work, point­ing out those in their 60s a gen­er­a­tion ago would strug­gle to make a car but now they can sit at com­put­ers op­er­at­ing ro­bots.

She also said obe­sity is not hit­ting life ex­pectancy that much, but it is still a prob­lem be­cause while peo­ple won’t die much ear­lier, they will be dis­abled for longer. ‘ Obe­sity only de­creases life ex­pectancy by 1.5 years, but it in­creases dis­abled years by six years,’ she warned. ‘ That is ex­tra­or­di­nary [and] not pos­i­tive.’

Driv­ers are bet­ter off us­ing maps be­cause sat­navs over­com­pli­cate long jour­neys, an ex­pert has said.

Cardiff Univer­sity aca­demic Dr Rhyd Lewis said the de­vices were bet­ter for short jour­neys where they did not have to make as­sump­tions about your speed or traf­fic.

Speak­ing at the fes­ti­val, Dr Lewis said: ‘My ad­vice would be to use a map to plan your over­all jour­ney.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.