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Getting older by numbers

31st August 2017

There is a lot of concentration in the media currently about the millennial generation and Generation Y. However, as Baby Boomers move into retirement age, the way ageing is perceived is changing. With enormous spending power and influence, the ‘silver pound’ is no longer being ignored by marketers and media, instead people are sitting up and taking notice.


While the needs of the individuals are very different across the generations, with some reliant on mobility facilities like a new stairlift, others enjoy a more active lifestyle. However, though statistics do not take into account the individual, they are a great way of analysing trends within an age group. 





The population of the UK continues to grow and is now at its largest at 65.5 million people. The increases in in the rate of growth can be attributed to the Baby Boom in the 1960s and the children of the Baby Boomers in the 1980s. Below is a graph from the Office for National Statistics demonstrating the population increase in the last 50 years and the projections for the period up until 2030.


According to the Office of National Statistics: “there are a larger number of 69-year-olds due to the spike in births after the end of World War 2, but the rapid increases in numbers of those aged 65 and over seen between 2009 and 2015 may be temporarily slowing as relatively smaller cohorts reach age 65.”



Different areas in the UK have seen different trends, these are relating to levels of work, facilities available and location. An area in Eastbourne, Sussex has the oldest median age of the UK with the average resident being 71.5 years old.  It is clear that the southern coast is a popular destination for retirement with 7 of the 10 oldest districts in England and Wales situated between Eastbourne and Dorset. 



Not every country is seeing their population age at the same rate, and the CIA collates the World Factbook, rating countries by their median age. Many factors all contribute to how a population ages, with economics, politics, and geography all taken into account. While some countries have an incredible infrastructure to help their older residents, others have historically healthy diets. 



According to the Office of National Statistics, since 2011 the group with least internet activity was the over 75s however, trends are starting to change:


“In 2011, of adults aged 75 and over, 20% were recent internet users. However, recent internet use in the 65 to 74 age group has increased from 52% in 2011 to 78% in 2017, closing the gap on younger age groups.

Recent internet use by retired adults has increased by almost 22 percentage points since 2011 to 61% in 2017. Recent internet use by adults who were economically inactive, increased by 16 percentage points over this period to 86%.”


According to Pew Research Center, it is not just the use of internet that is on the rise, but also the technology to access it. They have reported:


“The share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013. Today, roughly half of older adults who own cell phones have some type of smartphone; in 2013, that share was just 23%!”

Reading & Hobbies


The hobbies enjoyed by older adults are diverse and both social and solo. Reading is an incredibly popular pastime and this is reflected by statistics from the Booktrust Reading Habits Survey:


“Amongst both women and men, the over 60s read most and the 18 to 30s read least. This difference is most prominent for females: only 18% of women under 30 read every day, compared with nearly half (48%) of women over 60.


“Available time is a factor; retired over 60s are likely to have more spare time to read. Other age groups (particularly 30 to 59-year-olds) would like to read more but are often too busy.”


Golfing has always been a popular sport and the gentle exercise makes it very accessible to everyone. According to a recent article from Credit Donkey:


“The largest percentage of golfers is composed of men between the ages of 18 and 59, and seniors easily outnumber younger players. The average age of golfers in the U.S. is 54.”


Though golf is more popular with men than women, this may be due to historical exclusion as opposed to preference of the sport. 

Driving & Independence


The number of drivers over the age of 70 is increasing and according to Road Safety GB:

"Thirty years ago, only one in three men and one in 20 women aged over 70 held a driving licence; today, three in four men and one in three women are licensed to drive. In the next twenty years, the number of male drivers over 70 will double, and that of female drivers will treble."


Though in the past there have been concerns that older drivers are unsafe, however recent statistics prove otherwise. Though there is an increase in older adults holding driving licences, the number of trips they take is far less than other age groups driving. They are also more cautious. Road Safety GB summarises:


"Older drivers are not unsafe; they are safer than most other age groups. This report shows that older drivers are safer than young drivers. Eight per cent of drivers are over 70, yet they are involved in around four per cent of injury crashes. In contrast, the 15 per cent of drivers who are in their teens and twenties are involved in 34 per cent of injury crashes."


One of the key reasons that older adults are less involved in accidents is due to their ability to adapt and avoid situations where they may feel less than comfortable. Situations such as wet roads or night driving are often avoided. Road Safety GB states:


"Older drivers tend to adapt their driving patterns, either through lifestyle changes, or by avoiding driving in situations in which they are uncomfortable, eg not driving at night or at busy times of the day, in heavy traffic or in poor weather conditions. This analysis points to where and when this is evident by comparing drivers aged 60 and over with those in their 50s"



As retirement years are extended, so does attitudes towards saving and spending. Older adults are spending more than ever on travel as they make the most of their free hours. According to Senior Living Magazine:


"Baby Boomers, moving now into their senior years, see family time as a worthwhile expenditure. Less inclined than their predecessors to leave an inheritance, they would rather spend their hard-earned money on their family while they can all enjoy it together, and multi-generational travel is the perfect scenario.

Of the multi-generational travellers surveyed, 40% had travelled outside the continental U.S. and a third had been to Europe. The typical multi-generational traveller takes about 4.4 trips per year. Nearly 80% planned a vacation around a life event such as a birthday (50%), anniversary (40%), family reunion (39%), and wedding (37%)."


Eurostat explored the duration and accommodation of the holidays taken by older adults:


“Tourists aged 65+ were more likely to make longer tourism trips, trips within their country of residence (domestic trips) and trips spent at non-rented accommodation, for instance at holiday homes they owned.”

Image Credit: Verdodo

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.