Many of us older citizens have probably dreamt of making a cricket score of over 150- a few of us might even have done so, perhaps during schooldays, and it will have been a wonderful and lasting memory for them.
Little did we ever imagine that one day the score of 150 would come up as a measure of life expectancy. Incredibly, it has recently been reported that scientists are developing a pill which will delay the ageing process and enable us to live to be over 150.
Whilst in principle this seems a wonderful development, it will surely only be a force for good if the pill is successful in keeping us fit, mobile and well. Because in such circumstances, working lives will have to be extended until we are at least 125 which may not come as such an attractive proposition.
In the past week, a House of Lords Committee has declared that we as a nation are woefully unprepared for the changing demographics which are already happening without the new anti ageing pill. For example, the number of people aged over 65 is expected to double over the next 20 years putting a potentially intolerable strain on the resources available for social and nursing care.
The Lordships also commented that successive Governments and society as a whole have not addressed the implications of an ageing population on housing, transport and local communities. It should also be acknowledged that as we live longer, the employment prospects for elderly people needs to be improved if an extended old age in penury is to be avoided.
The Committee highlights the requirement for a radically different model for supporting people in their homes to minimise pressure on the National Health Service. For the tragedy today is that longer lives often are accompanied by long term health or mobility issues, and a poor quality of life.
In order to improve the financial position for homeowners in retirement, the Committee also draws attention to the availability of equity release schemes as a means of facilitating the funding for social care in the home. It is noteable that, at last, politicians are beginning to recognise the positive role which equity release can play in improving retirement living standards.
Equity release schemes are already being utilised by many elderly homeowners to supplement their retirement incomes. For most people in retirement, their home is their main and often their only capital asset. A wide range of equity release plans are now available offering value, security and flexibility. In the long run, maybe living to 150 will not be such a daunting prospect for those lucky enough to be homeowners, particularly if and when house prices resume an upward path.