Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel Healthy Ageing report 2013


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Ageing Brits ignoring health warnings: New report investigates the health and wellbeing of older Britons.

We all know that health problems become more common as we age but when it comes to wellbeing, thousands of Britons are putting their heads in the sand and avoiding GP visits, according to new research published by the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP). The poll of 1,000 people aged 40 to 75, found that most had noticed a deterioration in their health, with joint problems (59%), weight gain (57%) and low energy (51%) the most commonly reported changes they had noticed with age.

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Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel Healthy Ageing report 2013

  1. 1. Ageing Brits ignoring health warnings New report investigates the health and wellbeing of older Britons ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 1 06/12/2013 18:01
  2. 2. 2 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 2 06/12/2013 18:01
  3. 3. Contents Page Foreword: Older Britons avoiding health checks 2 Section 1: Middle aged Britain and beyond 4 Section 2: The shape we are in 6 Section 3: The good life 12 Section 4: Eye say 16 Last word 20 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 1 06/12/2013 18:01
  4. 4. Foreword: Older Britons avoiding health checks We all know that health problems become more common as we age but when it comes to wellbeing, thousands of Britons are putting their heads in the sand and avoiding GP visits, according to new research published by the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP).1 The poll1 of 1,000 people aged 40 to 75, found that most had noticed a deterioration in their health, with joint problems (59%), weight gain (57%) and low energy (51%) the most commonly reported changes they had noticed with age. Yet only one in four (28%) said they were seeing their GP more frequently, while one in six (16%) is actively staying away from the GP surgery, the research for ShARP has found. Those aged over 55 years were the most likely to have medical issues but also the most likely to avoid checks, with one in five (20%) seeing their doctor less often, compared to one in ten (11%) of the 40 to 45 year olds. 2 Of even greater concern, is the fact that one in four (26%) of those questioned admit they turn to the internet first when they have a medical problem, with all age groups showing a similar reliance on the web. Whilst there are many trustworthy websites such as NHS Choices and those run by high profile charities like Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, there are many online health pages which provide dubious advice. A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that only just over a third (39%) of websites gave the correct answers to five common paediatric questions.2 This echoed an earlier BMJ investigation which warned: “Only a few websites provided complete and accurate information.”3 1 One Poll survey of 1,000 people aged 40 - 75 carried out in October 2013 2 3 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 2 06/12/2013 18:01
  5. 5. Researchers at Durham University found even websites with ‘expert ratings’ can be flawed,4 and the US health watchdog Science-Based Medicine has warned that the usually reliable HON ratings granted by the Health On the Net Foundation can be found on web pages with questionable content.5 However self care has never been more important. GPs around the country are warning that falls in funding will make it harder to get an appointment,6 NHS Direct is soon to close7 and experts are predicting a crisis in emergency care.8 The following report from ShARP sets out the latest science on ageing and explores the health and wellbeing of older Britons, that should serve as a wake-up call to us all. 4 5 6 7 8 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 3 3 06/12/2013 18:01
  6. 6. Section 1: Middle-aged Britain and beyond We are living longer than ever before. Average life expectancy in the UK is 78 years for men and 82 years for women, and better healthcare means five times as many people now reach 100 than they did in the 1980s.9 However, the headline figures tell only some of the story, as not all of this time will be spent in good health. The Office of National Statistics estimates that a 65 year old will endure around eight years of poor health or disability by the end of their life.10 An ageing population means healthcare, and our own attitudes to health, must adapt to meet our changing needs. A recent Lancet report11 warned that this presents “new challenges,” but was upbeat about our ability to tackle them, concluding: “Many options are available for adaption of healthcare, long-term care and welfare systems to better meet the needs of ageing populations.” 4 However, the House of Lords Ready for Ageing? Report12 was far less optimistic, warning: “Longer lives can be a great benefit, but there has been a collective failure to address the implications and without urgent action this great boom could turn into a series of miserable crises.” If the predictions of emergency care experts reported in recent news are to be believed, the first of these meltdowns could be upon us within weeks.13 But the Ready for Ageing? report points out that for many Britons, age is now “a state of mind” and largely determined by health and the ability to remain independent.14 While a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which followed 3,500 healthy people at or around retirement age, found that exercise cut the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. 9 10 11 Health in Europe 6. Ageing in the European Union. Published Online March 27, 2013 12 Ready for Ageing? House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change. Report of Session 2012-13. Published 14 March, 2013 13 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 4 06/12/2013 18:01
  7. 7. It found that people who take up exercise in their 60s are three times more likely to remain healthy over the next eight years than those who are sedentary.15 There is no better example of that than actress Jane Fonda, who at 75 is probably fitter than many 40 year olds. She argues: “We can allow our various infirmities to define us or we can say to ourselves, I want to stay independent as long as possible. I want to be able to sit on the floor and play with my grandchildren. I want to carry at least some of my own luggage and not take 15 minutes to get out of a car.”16 Yet the ShARP survey revealed that many people in the UK are already feeling their age, with some saying that they feel much older. Stiffness and joint problems are the most common clue that we are getting on, with three out of five (59%) of the 40 to 75 year olds affected. Middle-aged spread is also an issue, with a similar number (57%) reporting weight gain and lower energy levels were reported by just over half (51%). Changes respondents had noticed as they had aged included: ✔ Stiffness and joint problems 59% ✔ Weight gain 57% ✔ Less energy 51% ✔ Deteriorating eyesight 50% ✔ Memory loss 14% ✔ Hearing loss 12% Low energy levels were most common among the 40 to 45 year olds — perhaps because they are most likely to be members of the so called ‘Sandwich Generation’ who care for both children and parents. As you would expect, those of us over 55 years of age are more prone to stiffness and joint pain — 68%, compared to 52% of the 40 to 45 year olds. The incidence of hearing loss also climbed steadily with age, with more than four times as many over 55s reporting problems than 40 to 45 year olds (18% compared to 4%). 14 Ready for Ageing? House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change. Report of Session 2012-13. Published 14 March, 2013 (page 26) 15 Hamer M, Lavoie KL, Bacon S Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing. Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092993 16 .Author’s approval to use quote granted. ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 5 5 06/12/2013 18:01
  8. 8. Section 2: The shape we are in The ShARP survey provides a fascinating snapshot of the health and lifestyle choices of over 45s in the UK — and highlights some potentially serious issues surrounding misdiagnosis and the importance of getting a second opinion. Almost one in five of those questioned have high blood pressure, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.17 One in six (16%) has developed arthritis and one in 14 (7%) has been diagnosed with asthma since their 40th birthday. However, the symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are easily confused.18,19 And as asthma is most commonly diagnosed before the age of 20, and COPD most likely to appear in smokers or former smokers in their mid 40s, it is possible that some of these respondents may have been misdiagnosed, or have both conditions. This is borne out by a British Lung Foundation survey which found that almost two out of five patients were told they had 6 both asthma and COPD: “A far higher figure than should be the case.”20 GP and ShARP member, Dr Gill Jenkins warned this has serious implications for patients. “The long term aims of asthma and COPD treatment are different and it is vital that sufferers with either disease have an accurate diagnosis.” Heart health matters As you would expect, respondents aged 55 to 75 were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those between 40 and 45, 3% compared to 7% and Scots were the most prone to cardiac problems, 7% compared to just 2% of Londoners. However, Dr Paul Oldershaw a cardiologist and advisor to ShARP estimates that more than a third of men and 15% of women aged between 45 and 75 have coronary heart disease;21 this suggests a worrying number of older Britons may have heart problems which have not yet been picked up. 17 18 Price D, Brusselle G.University of Aberdeen, Academic Primary Care, Division of Applied Health Sciences, Aberdeen, Scotland. Expert Opin Med Diagn. 2013 Nov;7(6):543-56. doi: 10.1517/17530059.2013.842552. Epub 2013 Oct 8. 19 20 Lost In Translation – British Lung Foundation, July 2006. Facts also published via: ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 6 06/12/2013 18:01
  9. 9. Weight blues Use it or lose it: active measures More than a quarter (29%) of those surveyed had been advised to lose weight, but fewer than half (13%) had successfully shed their excess pounds. Most of us don’t get enough exercise. Research from heart health charities has found that only a third (34%) of UK adults meet the minimum recommended by the Chief Medical Officers — 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week.22 Good intentions run high, with two out of five (41%) of those questioned confirming they own exercise equipment, a fitness console or work-out videos and two out of three (69%) saying they had bought it with the intention of getting fit. But almost one in ten (9%) admit they have never used their apparatus, one in four (27%) has lost interest and no longer use the kit while almost one in five (18%) use their exercise equipment only ‘a few times a year’. However, the real figure could be even lower as estimates are based on self-reporting — volunteers telling researchers what they have done. By this measure, in England 39% of men and 29% of women hit the recommendations, but when a sub-group of those questioned for the report were asked to wear accelerometers to measure what they were really doing only 6% of men and 4%23 of women in England hit the target. 21 BHF Coronary heart disease statistics: A compendium of health statistics, 2012 edition. Page 74 22 Physical Activity Statistics 2012 published by the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Group, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford homepage-resources-and-publications-item/339/index.html 34% calculated from Table 1.1 page 14 23 BHF report, page 12 24 Calculated from Table 1.1 (page 14) in BHF report ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 7 7 06/12/2013 18:01
  10. 10. This exercise deficit also gets worse as we age, with just one in five (21%) people aged 65 to 74 achieving the recommended levels.24 However, numerous studies which underline the importance of keeping active show that it is never too late to try to improve fitness levels. Dr Jenkins from ShARP warns, “You might be able to kid yourself that you’re getting enough exercise, but you won’t fool your doctor and you can’t fool your body. Physical fitness is important at every age, but once you have hit your forties there is even more truth in the adage: ‘Use it or lose it’. Meta analysis, a type of super study which collates data from all the relevant trials, found that even frail residents in nursing homes benefited both physically and emotionally from exercise therapy. Researchers concluded: “These positive effects are of great value for older adults who are already physically impaired.”26 “It can become a vicious cycle. We lose muscle as we get older and because lean tissue burns more calories than fat, this can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Loss of muscle tone also increases the risk of falls and other injuries.” This is borne out by other reports which found that poor health or injuries prevented almost a quarter (23%) of 45 to 54 years old from being as active as they would like, with almost one in three people aged 55 to 64 reporting similar problems.25 8 Similarly, a review by Finnish researchers found “consistent” evidence that exercise improved mobility and physical function in patients with dementia — who are often frail and at high risk of falls.27 Guided exercise and physiotherapy are now an essential part of rehabilitation after a heart attack or stroke, and there is also evidence that the right physical activity can also help cancer patients. In a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, Norwegian researchers reported on the 25 Effects of physical exercise therapy on mobility, physical functioning, physical activity and quality of life in community-dwelling older adults with impaired mobility, physical disability and/ or multi-morbidity: a Vries NM et al. Ageing Res Rev. 2012 Jan;11(1):136-49. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2011.11.002. Epub 2011 Nov 11. 26 Effects of physical exercise therapy on mobility, physical functioning, physical activity and quality of life in community-dwelling older adults with impaired mobility, physical disability and/ or multi-morbidity: A meta-analysis N.M. de Vriesa, C.D. van Ravensbergb, J.S.M. Hobbelenb,c, M.G.M. Olde Rikkertd, J.B.Staala, M.W.G. Nijhuis-van der Sandena 27 Efficacy of physical exercise intervention on mobility and physical functioning in older people with dementia: A systematic review Kaisu Pitkälä a, Nina Savikko a, Minna Poysti a,b, Timo Strandberg c, Marja-Liisa Laakkonen a,d ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 8 06/12/2013 18:01
  11. 11. “promising effects of physical exercise” on quality of life, fatigue and physical fitness.28 They concluded: “Cancer patients benefit from maintaining physical activity balanced with efficient rest periods.” Strictly for health reasons “One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that exercise must mean joining a gym, or a class,” Dr Catherine Hood from ShARP says. “The key to success is finding something you like doing.” Her tip? “If you can’t bear the thought of pumping iron, why not slip on some dance pumps and foxtrot your way to fitness?” A study published by the American Heart Association found that waltzing was as effective as a traditional workout at improving heart function in patients with chronic heart failure. As an added bonus, those on the dance arm of the study were less likely to drop out and reported the greatest improvements in emotional wellbeing.29 28 Physical exercise results in the improved subjective well-being of a few or is effective rehabilitation for all cancer patients? L.M. Oldervoll a, S. Kaasa a,b, M.J. Hjermstad c, J.A. Lund b, J.H. Loge a,c,d 29 30 Effects of dance therapy and ballroom dances on physical and mental illnesses: A systematic review Marie-Sophie Kiepe, MPH, Barbara Stöckigt, MD, Thomas Keil, MD, MSc 31 National Osteoporosis Society (2008): Your bones and osteoporosis: What every man, woman and child should know ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 9 9 06/12/2013 18:01
  12. 12. Dr Val Mann, a senior lecturer in Regenerative Medicine at University Campus Suffolk and guest advisor to ShARP says: “The health benefits of dance are well documented. A systematic review by German researchers found ballroom dancing improves balance and coordination in Parkinson’s patients, reduces psychological distress in people with depression and can benefit people with dementia, diabetes and heart failure.30 “As well as an active lifestyle, maintaining social interactions in later life is also important in delaying the onset of dementia and dance provides a great way of doing both.” Bone up on the benefits of exercise One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will fracture a bone, largely because of poor bone health.31 10 Around three million people in the UK have the brittle bone condition osteoporosis,32 and that number is likely to rise as we live longer and begin to pay the price for bad habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.33 But keeping active can help maintain bone density and head off problems. Scientists at Madrid University who reviewed the evidence concluded that exercise is an easy, inexpensive and effective method of preventing and treating bone loss, pointing out it has no side effects and has the added advantage of improving stability, which prevents falls.34 Dr Mann says: “Most of the trials the Spanish scientists looked at focused on women, presumably because the smaller female skeleton and hormonal changes around menopause mean women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. We know that one in three women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture.”35 32 33 34 Effects of Exercise on Osteoporosis Manuel Diaz-Curiel Internal/Diseases Metabolic Hosea Medicine Service, Foundation Jimenes Diaz, Autonomous University, Madrid, Spain 35 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 10 06/12/2013 18:01
  13. 13. However, one in five men over 50 will suffer the same fate and will also benefit from weight bearing workouts. In a systematic review of evidence published in the journal Osteoporosis International, Australian researchers advise: “Physical exercise, regular resistance training and impactloading activities should be considered as an effective strategy to prevent osteoporosis in middle-aged and older men.”36 The bone benefits of exercise were confirmed by a 12 year study funded by the International Osteoporosis Foundation which found that exercise dramatically slowed the loss of bone density in post-menopausal women at risk of fractures.37 However Dr Catherine Hood warns: “If you have osteoporosis it is important to seek expert advice as you may need to avoid vigorous, high impact exercise.” 11 36 The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: A systematic review K. A. Bolam & J. G. Z. van Uffelen & D. R. Taaffe 37 Exercise and fractures in postmenopausal women: 12-year results of the Erlangen Fitness and Osteoporosis Prevention Study (EFOPS) W. Kemmler & S. von Stengel & M. Bebenek & K. Engelke & C. Hentschke & W. A. Kalender ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 11 06/12/2013 18:01
  14. 14. Section 3: The good life The evidence that diet and lifestyle have a huge impact on our health is beyond dispute. At least one in three cancers38 and most of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease39— Britain’s single biggest killer — are avoidable.40 The health issues associated with ageing which respondents noted were most likely to believe could be prevented were: ✔ obesity (66%) Proof of the power of prevention can be seen in the National Service Framework for coronary heart disease — a Government strategy which cut deaths from CHD and stroke by 40% in just five years.41 ✔ high blood pressure (41%). But the ShARP survey reveals that many older Britons underestimate their ability to head off problems. A mere one in 17 (6%) believed cancer was preventable and only a third (37%) thought cardiovascular disease was avoidable. 12 ✔ tooth loss (58%) It is unrealistic to think we can undo all the damage caused by the bad habits of a lifetime, but there is mounting evidence that it is never too late to make healthier choices. Vascular ageing A key factor in determining our risk of cardiovascular disease in later life is the elasticity of our blood vessels and condition of the cells which line our veins and arteries — sometimes called vascular age. 38 39 html#tab-Leading-causes-of-mortality-in-2012 40 41 2000 to 2005: ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 12 06/12/2013 18:01
  15. 15. Professor Geetha Raghuveer, a researcher at the University of Missouri, who is an expert in this field believes: “You’re as old as your arteries. The state of your arteries is more important than your actual age in the evolution of heart disease and stroke.”42 One of her studies, which involved scans to check the neck arteries of 70 youngsters, with an average age of 13, found they were already 40 something in terms of vascular age. Spanish researchers investigating vascular ageing found much of the damage is done by inflammation and oxidative stress — and both can be reduced by cutting calories and increasing exercise. The scientists, based at University Hospital in Madrid, report: “Caloric restriction and particularly aerobic exercise in the elderly may help to prevent or delay the onset of endothelial dysfunction.”43 42 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, 2008. Abstract 6077 Raghuveer G et al releases/2008-11/aha-oka102708.php 43 Oxidative stress and vascular inflammation in aging Mariam El Assar a, Javier Angulo b, Leocadio Rodríguez-Mañas (file you provided: lecture 1 _ CV ageing and ex) ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 13 13 06/12/2013 18:01
  16. 16. There is evidence that oxidative stress is also a factor in development of a number of cancers including breast, bowel and prostate tumours, as well as dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at the University of Calabria believe: “The oxidative stress pathway represents one of the crucial mechanisms linked to human ageing and longevity.”44 14 They say three factors influence this damage — diet, activity levels and genes. Dr Val Mann notes further: “This may explain why some people live to a ripe old age despite bad habits such as smoking and being overweight. More importantly this shows we can influence two out of three of the key factors which increase oxidative stress with ageing — diet and exercise.” 44 Exploring the Role of Genetic Variability and Lifestyle in Oxidative Stress Response for Healthy Aging and Longevity Serena Dato, Paolina Crocco, Patrizia D’Aquila, Francesco de Rango, Dina Bellizzi, Giuseppina Rose and Giuseppe Passarino* ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 14 06/12/2013 18:01
  17. 17. Did you know? ✔ The powerplant perils: As we get older, mitochondria, the powerplant inside all our cells, begins to downgrade and become less efficient. Earlier this year, scientists at Texas A&M University who are investigating this phenomenon reported: “Regular aerobic exercise may increase healthy life expectancy and prolong life through beneficial effects at the mitochondrial level.”45 ✔ Exercise and dementia: Australian researchers looking at exercise and dementia found: “There is clear evidence that physical activity, if performed safely, can contribute to healthy ageing and reduce morbidity and mortality rates.”46 They endorse the advice of the American College of Sports Medicine which recommends older adults do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise five days a week, or vigorous intensity aerobic exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week. This should be combined with muscle strengthening, flexibility and balance exercises.47 15 45 Effect of aerobic exercise on mitochondrial DNA and aging Anusha Eluamai, Kelly Brooks Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness 11 (2013) 46 The influence of exercise on brain aging and dementia Nicola T. Lautenschlager a,b, Kay Cox c, Elizabeth V. Cyarto 47 The influence of exercise on brain aging and dementia Nicola T. Lautenschlager a,b,Kay Cox c, Elizabeth V. Cyarto ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 15 06/12/2013 18:01
  18. 18. Section 4: Eye say Apart from ensuring you see the world in sharp focus, regular eye examinations can pick up a number of serious health problems. Yet two out of five (41%) of the 40 to 75-year-olds who responded to the ShARP poll had noticed a deterioration in their eyesight, but had done nothing about it. One in eight (12%) were put off by the cost while one in ten (10%) thought deterioration of eye sight was “an age thing — I don’t need someone to tell me my eye sight is failing.” A similar number (11%) had diagnosed their own eye problems and bought prescription glasses over the counter or online. Worryingly, one in eight admit to driving with less than perfect sight, with a handful (3%) revealing they do it “all the time”. Although some 53% of respondents said they left an eye check for up to five years, the majority recognised the benefits of regular eye examinations and knew opticians can also diagnose a number of serious health issues. 16 Almost two out of three (59%) realised an optician could diagnose diabetes and 44% mentioned high blood pressure. Seven out of ten (71%) had noticed floaters — black or grey spots in your vision that drift about when you move your eyes. And while they are usually nothing more than a sign of age, they can also indicate serious eye conditions such as detached retinas. Of even greater concern was the fact that 99% of respondents in the same ShARP research poll failed to identify the most common cause of blindness in the UK — age related macular degeneration.48 And only a third (31%) knew what the condition was. This has serious implications as early diagnosis can slow loss of sight, and in the case of Wet AMD the sooner treatment is started, the greater the chance it will work.49 Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula and damage its cells (doctors sometimes refer to wet AMD as neovascular AMD). 48 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 16 06/12/2013 18:01
  19. 19. Did you know? Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of central vision. Central vision is used to see what is directly in front of you, during activities such as reading or watching television for example. The central vision becomes increasingly blurred leading to symptoms including: ✔ difficulty reading printed or written text (because it appears blurry) ✔ colours appear less vibrant ✔ difficulty recognising people’s faces AMD usually affects both eyes, but the speed at which it progresses can vary from eye to eye. 17 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 17 06/12/2013 18:01
  20. 20. Eye health facts and stats at a glance: ✔ One in four (26%) of older Britons have an annual eye test, but most (53%) leave it for up to five years. ✔ One in four (22%) blamed their time surfing the net for their deteriorating eyesight.50 Simply a healthy a solution Health cash plans help people claim cash back towards the cost of everyday healthcare appointments, such as the visits to the dentist, optician, physiotherapist and chiropodist. Simplyhealth is the UK’s largest health cash plan provider and offers plans to suit all ages and pockets. Simplyhealth also offers a special 70 Plus plan for people aged 70 and over, which provides extra benefits, such as help with the cost hearing aids. 18 Unlike some other health plans, there is no upper age limit or medical required on the Simply Cash Plan 70 Plus, individuals just need to be 70 or older to join. Simplyhealth also provides private health insurance for individuals and its friendly experts from Simplyhealth Independent Living can provide no-obligation advice on mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs and other aids to support independent living. The company, which was founded over 140 years ago — long before the NHS — has a philosophy which is as straightforward as its name: “In a world where so many people can’t be bothered, we’re proud to be the healthcare company that can.” 49 50 One Poll survey of 1,000 people aged 40 - 75 carried out in October 2013 51 2012 reports and accounts ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 18 06/12/2013 18:01
  21. 21. Simplyhealth: Facts and stats at a glance Simplyhealth has over three million customers and patients, serving nearly four million people, and is also our healthcare provider to 20,000 companies. While the company has changed and adapted over the years, its award winning commitment to do the right thing by its customers has not. Simplyhealth is committed to its strongly held values and to supporting communities. With no shareholders, it only invests its profits into running the business for the good of its customers, or making donations to health related charities with £1.6m given away last year.51 Its cash plans help people with their everyday health, whether they use NHS or private practitioners. The private health insurance works alongside the NHS and is often provided by companies as an employee benefit to help staff at times of ill health. Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Simplyhealth Access is registered and incorporated in England and Wales, registered no. 183035. Registered office, Hambleden House, Waterloo Court, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 1LQ. Your calls may be recorded and monitored for training and quality assurance purposes. ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 19 19 06/12/2013 18:01
  22. 22. Last word FACT: By 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million.52 FACT: Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression as they age.53 FACT: It’s not uncommon for someone to increase in shoe size by a half-size or more as they age. The body’s ligaments and tendons through the aging process gradually lose strength and their ability to “spring back” causing our feet to get bigger as our arch decreases.54 “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” A lot has changed since the great American writer, Mark Twain penned these words. Nowadays we DO mind. Maintaining good physical and mental health for as long as possible DOES matter. Fifty has become the new thirty and the music charts are dominated by stars who are entitled to pick up a bus pass. 20 Government changes mean most of us will have to work for longer before picking up a pension,55 and economic pressures mean the number of Britons working past retirement has almost doubled in the past ten years.56 Dr Catherine Hood from ShARP says: “For some that is a choice. As June Brown, one of the nation’s favourite soap stars has shown, your birth date does not have to determine your shelf life. She had just celebrated her 86th birthday when she returned as EastEnders’ busybody Dot Cotton.” “And she hadn’t taken a break for health reasons; she needed time off to write her memoirs!.” Dr Hood says A lifelong smoker, June is living proof that a lucky few are blessed with genes that guarantee an active old age. But as this report from ShARP has revealed far too many older Britons are playing a high stakes game with their health which could have a serious impact on their quantity and quality of life. 52 Action for blind 53 Office for National Statistics (ONS) Measuring National Wellbeing programme, which surveyed 40,000 households between 2010 and 2011 54 See for full article 55 56 Office for National Statistics. Pension Trends – Chapter 4: The Labour Market and Retirement, 2013 Edition (published 26 February 2013) ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 20 06/12/2013 18:01
  23. 23. An alarming number of people over the age of 55 highlighted that they avoided seeing their doctor in the ShARP research poll. Many older Britons also admitted that they are turning to the internet for health advice, with too few making the lifestyle changes that will prolong their lives. In summary, Dr Val Mann notes: “As scientists we can describe in detail the biological mechanisms that control development but we have difficulty doing the same thing to describe ageing. However, in the past decade we have gained a much better understanding of how and why we age, and there is now irrefutable evidence that we can reduce the risk of age related disease by making healthy lifestyle choices and it is never to late to make these positive changes.” “That also means keeping on top of our healthcare needs as we age such as having regular check-ups like eye sight tests, so taking a preventative approach to managing our health is vital. Health cash plans, such as those from Simplyhealth, provide quick, affordable and easy access to healthcare practitioners without the need for GP referrals. As a result, people should tackle their health problems not ignore them.” 21 ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 21 06/12/2013 18:01
  24. 24. ShARP Ageing report 2013 V2 (1538).indd 22 06/12/2013 18:01