When Does Old Age Officially Begin?

With the UK population ageing due to improvements in healthcare and lifestyles, what we classed as the start of older age may have shifted – so when does older age begin now?

In the UK, being 65 has traditionally been the age at which people perceive as being the start of old age – due to being the official age where men could retire and draw their state pension.

In mid-2018, the population of the UK reached an estimated 66.4 million. In 50 years’ time there is projected to be an additional 8.2 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK which is equal to the population of present-day London, according to the latest ONS stats of the UK population.

Looking at working patterns, being 65 is archaic in terms of being the start of older age as there is no longer an official retirement age – and State Pension age is rising, and more and more people are part of the work force past the age of 65 years.

In addition, people are living longer, healthier and fruitful lives as according to ONS figures on average, at age 65 years, women still have a quarter of their lives left to live and men just over a fifth.

With women living longer than men, it becomes apparent that women need to prepare for later life, such as arranging pensions.

However, research undertaken by Aegon has found a pensions gender gap. Statistics revealed that more than double the number of women (34%) compared to men (16%) do not know how much they have saved in pensions, while women are more likely to have estimated their income needs for later life than men (40% vs 32%).

Shockingly, the number of women who do not have a pension has nearly doubled from 7% in 2017 to 13% and remains higher than the number of men without a pension.

Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, commented on the pension gender gap:

“It’s hugely disappointing to see that despite the attention being given to addressing the gender pay gap, this increased awareness does not seem to have inspired women to show more interest in their pensions.

“Knowledge is key to helping solve the gender pension gap so it’s really worrying to see that more than a third of women remain in the dark about what they have saved for retirement – if anything at all.

“We already know that women are at a disadvantage in terms of pay, childcare responsibilities and costs and reduced working hours but by not having a complete picture of their financial situation, they are putting themselves at a further disadvantage.

“This lack of interest in pension savings is exacerbated by the fact that women are also being let down by the current auto-enrolment criteria.

“Women who are more likely to be lower earners and work part time, are missing out on the benefits of retirement saving as they are less likely to meet the eligibility criteria for auto-enrolment. And those who are self-employed, risk being in a similar position without access to auto-enrolment.

“Auto-enrolment needs to be more inclusive to include lower earners, who are disproportionately female. A solution needs to be found for individuals with multiple jobs, each below £10,000 allowing them to benefit automatically from an employer contribution. This will help to close the gender pension gap.”

Another crucial point is that someone who is 65 today will have completely different characteristics, such as health and life expectancy, to someone the same age a century ago.

Consequently, the number of UK residents aged 65 years is growing at a fast rate, many will be sleepwalking into later life without adequate later life planning in place.

With technological advancements impacting our everyday lives, emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-powered, cloud-based conversational platforms (chatbots) can be utilised by legal firms, offering Wills, probate, and estate planning services, to harness the variety of evolving digital solutions – to unlock new ways to engage with customers around later-life planning.

Taking all the above into consideration it could be argued that the start of older age has completely shifted and we would need to move the threshold a few years. But nevertheless, the Wills and probate community need to adapt to the ageing population as age 70 could be the new age 65.

1 Comment

  • test

    It is a similar question to what “elderly” means in the Golden Rule suggested by Templeman J in Kenward v Adams. A friend of mine was at the judge’s retirement party and asked what he thought “elderly” meant, the reply was “someone who is 15 years older than me.” He was 80.

    Reply

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