How long will you live, and how well will you be? I find the mixed messages about this confusing. People are living longer. That at least is clear. But how much of that longer life will be enjoyed in good health?
Take a look at the following figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics:
- At age 65, men in the UK can expect to live until they are 83. Women can expect to live until they are 85.
- At age 65, men in the UK can expect 10 years of healthy life. Women can expect 12.
- The proportion of life spent in good health has increased over the past decade.
On the other hand, cancer charities tell us that:
- One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
- While 13% of over 65s currently live with cancer, 23% will live with cancer in 30 years time.
Putting these two sources of data alongside each other pitches one implication against another. We are on the one hand living longer in better health. And on the other hand, the rising level of sickness in our society is putting so much pressure on our health services that they need huge increases in resources to cope. The media churns out both messages in tandem.
At the end of each report we are advised that lifestyles make things worse. Medical services are desperately trying to catch up. Whether or not we can square the circle of healthy life expectancy statistics, those of us who find ways to adjust lifestyles will reduce our chances of cancer and other diseases. No guarantees, but a better chance for a healthy life in later years.