Life Expectancy for Older Women Drops for First Time Since 1995
Life expectancy, for the most part, has been steadily increasing as the years pass by bringing plenty of advancements in medicine along with them. However, this rise seems to have come to an end for older women, as it is revealed that life expectancy for this group has dropped for the first time since 1995.
Life Expectancy for Women – The Figures
A study by Public Health England has shown that predicted life expectancy for women aged 65, 75, 85 and 95 fell in 2012. 75-year-old women in 2011 lived an average of five weeks longer than those of the same age just a year later. The average 85-year-old woman now has a life expectancy of 6.8 years, which is two and a half months less than it was for women of this age just two years ago.
The unexpected decrease has been attributed to an increase in healthy lifestyles. Statistics show that alcohol-related hospital admissions for those over 60 have increased, and lung cancer has become the most deadly form of the disease, partly thanks to the growing popularity of cigarettes.
“One of the issues we have seen is women living lifestyles becoming more like those of men over recent decades, with more smoking and drinking,” says Professor John Aston, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health.
Failings in Social Care?
It has been suggested that the slight decline in life expectancy for older women may indicate that senior citizens who develop health problems are not receiving the standard of care they require.
“The decrease in life expectancy, after many years of improvement, is like the canary in the coal mine,” says Caroline Abrahams of Age UK. “It is telling us that something has changed for the worse, so that fewer people are thriving later in life that they could or should.
“The most likely culprit is the rapid decline of state-funded social care in recent years, which is leaving hundreds of thousands of older people to struggle on alone at home without any help. More and more older people are living with several incurable conditions and illnesses. Determined action now to sustain social care and to support older people with multiple long-term health conditions more effectively can hopefully make this a blip, rather than the start of a terrible trend.”
“There has been a failure of successive governments in that we should have seen that trends were changing, that more people would be living longer and we needed to put services in place to look after them,” says Aston. “We are letting down a generation which came back from the war and built the welfare state.”
It remains to be seen whether the decrease in life expectancy is simply a temporary dip, or the beginning of a long-term problem.