The Uks ageing workforce debate

Listen again to our InsideHR webinar on the UK’s ageing workforce featuring an expert panel including Joanne Sawyer from Age UK. First broadcast on 18 June 2015

One in three office workers have been found to put work before their physical and mental health in a recent survey by Age UK and Bupa.

The research revealed that the effects of neglecting activities that could improve health can have a significant impact on our quality of life in later years, “with dementia and diabetes just two examples of diseases that are potential outcomes of unhealthy lifestyles,” according to Richard Adams, chief nurse at Bupa UK.

With an increasingly ageing workforce, the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles may already be prevalent in UK offices but Age UK assure that it’s never too late for a person to start looking after themselves. To prove it they have busted the following seven myths of ageing, demonstrating how employers and workers alike can encourage health and wellbeing for all ages:

1) I’ve left it too late to make a difference to my health

It’s never too late to make positive changes to your health and wellbeing, no matter your age. It’s true that some of our ageing can be put down to genetics, but lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise play a major part too. Just a few small changes can make a big difference – making you feel better, giving you more energy and helping you to sleep more soundly.

2) I’m too old to try new activities

Age isn’t a barrier and it’s never too late to start being more active. Try to limit the amount of time you spend sitting and remember that every 10 minutes of activity counts. Set yourself achievable goals each day and always build up gradually. Speak to your GP before increasing your activity levels significantly. Finding something you enjoy means you’re more likely to do it regularly.

3) Daily brain games can help long term memory

‘Brain training games’ can be fun and good for socialising but contrary to common belief there is no good evidence that they have an impact on your memory. For a real mental workout that could make a difference, you could try learning a new language or just go for a walk, which have both been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive health. 

4) Dementia is a natural part of ageing

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and being forgetful doesn’t necessarily mean someone has dementia. There are many conditions that can cause dementia, but people who follow a healthy lifestyle and who enjoy active and fulfilling lives have been shown to have a lower risk of developing it.

5) I’ll find it hard to do everyday tasks in old age

Many people think it’s inevitable that they’ll start finding everyday tasks more difficult as they get older. However, there are steps you can take to improve your health and fitness. Keeping active, eating and drinking sensibly and taking care of your feet, eyes and hearing can all help you remain fit and independent allowing you to enjoy later life.

6) I won’t be as mentally sharp as I used to be and I’ll have ‘senior moments’

It is widely believed that people lose their memory abilities when they become older but in fact, many older people retain or even improve certain types of memory, such as for past events and words. Age UK’s Disconnected Mind research project, which examines how thinking skills alter with age, not only showed that learning a second language can help you stay sharp in later life, but also that complex jobs may improve thinking skills too.

7) My mindset won’t affect my ageing

Actually it will! Research shows that having a positive attitude to getting older can help you enjoy better health and live longer. Some of the benefits of positive thinking include better memory, walking with more confidence, steadier handwriting, and a greater ability to deal with stress that can cause heart problems.