Britons are “overwhelmingly negative” about old age with 50% of people admitting they are worried about growing old, according to a new study.
A new global study also found that only 30% of Brits said they are looking forward to old age while more than a quarter of respondents said TV, film and advertising made old age seem “depressing, with limited opportunities”.
Worldwide it found that on average 52% of people were worried about growing old and a third of people were looking forward to old age.
The Ipsos Mori study, published on Wednesday, conducted online interviews last year with 20,788 adults aged 16-64 in 28 countries and 18-64 in the US and Canada.
It was carried out in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better charity and funded by an endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund.
Anna Dixon, chief executive of the charity, stressed negative experiences in old age were “not inevitable”.
She added: “There are tremendous opportunities that come from longer lives, yet just one in three people worldwide say they are looking forward to their old age.
“This is perhaps not surprising given the prevailing narrative across the globe is one of decline, frailty, ill-health and loneliness.
“We must improve our workplaces, our housing, our health and our communities to enable more of us to age well.”
The study also found that:
– In Great Britain people think that old age begins at 68 compared to the global average of 66;
– Only 38% of Brits expect to be fit and healthy in old age;
– About three in 10 Brits are concerned that when they get old they will lose their mobility, 29% fear not having enough cash to live on, and a quarter worry about losing their memory;
– About four in 10 Brits agreed that as people age and require care it is the responsibility of their younger relatives to provide this; and
– Nearly two-thirds said old people are not as respected as they should be, rising to 73% of those aged 55-64.
Suzanne Hall, director at Ipsos Mori, said the results showed there was a “great deal of negativity” towards getting old globally.
She added: “Feeding into this negativity is a sense that the media does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential.
“It is therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’ and ‘unfairly treated’ along with ‘wise’.
“Later life should be our golden years, but there is clearly much work to be done for this time in our life to be seen as such.”