“That’s one difficulty about knowing how it will be with everyone living longer. A more serious one is that we are still talking about the old – the over fifties, older sixties anyway – as if they were all in the same bracket. They are nothing of the sort.
There’s as much difference between someone of 60 and someone of 85 as there is between someone of 15 and 40 and we don’t treat them the same.
You read a headline like “Old age pensioner bashes burglar” and imagine a frail but frantic white-haired Valkyrie. But the feisty female who felled the felon may be someone who is as strong as an ox and works six days a week but still gets a bus pass and free prescriptions.
We have to get these two categories separate in our minds. The problems of the older lot, for example, are hugely connected to health. Hearing aids, cataract operations, HRT, hip replacements and such have helped a lot.”