People are living longer than ever before.
Thanks to medical advances and better lifestyles, the average life expectancy in the UK has increased steadily to 81 years. However, with healthy life expectancy stagnating at only 63, turns out we are spending most of these extra years in poor health.
That difference of 18 years is known as the Healthy Life Expectancy Gap, and currently it is nearly a quarter of a lifetime!
As scientist Guy Brown describes it: “While years are being added to our lives, life is not being added to our years.”
So it’s no surprise that many us of us have mixed feelings about the prospect of old age. We hope for a long life, but fear that those extra years may offer us little but protracted health problems, involving inactivity or dependency.
And yet, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. In fact, most problems commonly assumed to be age related are actually caused by lack of fitness and preventable disease.
Yes, the body accumulates wear and tear, and of course no-one is immune from a life-changing medical diagnosis. We can't wish those things away. But what we can do is give ourselves the best chance of spending longer feeling fit and vital.
In fact, actively protecting our long-term health is the only way to make the most out of our increased longevity. The potential payoffs are life-changing. Whether that be switching careers at 60, pursuing a new passion at 77, or still being fully independent at 90. Maintaining your quality of life for longer means more time to do all the things you love to do.
So if the solution to a vibrant later life is obvious, why aren’t more people doing it?
Society’s struggle with ageing
The main issue for modern medicine has been mortality. As a result, medical research and healthcare systems have focused more on reducing the death rate, rather than age-related disease. In fact, despite a growing body of medical research that suggest many aspects of ageing are treatable, these processes are still viewed as simply nature taking its course. It is not uncommon to go to the doctors’ in your fifties complaining of sleep disturbances and have them refrain from treatment because “it is just one of the things that happens as you get older”.
Undoubtedly, we will see shifts in this thinking. Several currently recognised diseases, such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, were previously attributed to normal ageing. What constituted a natural process for one generation was redefined as an illness for the next. However, it will still be years before this trickles down into health policy to become mainstream medical advice.
Society’s outdated perception of anyone over 50 doesn’t help either. When was the last time you saw an older person portrayed as anything other than needy, eccentric or frail? The over-50s are a diverse, thriving group with vastly, different needs. Despite that, we insist on seeing them as an appendage to society's younger members.
In the last few years, there has been more innovation in the healthy ageing market, but worryingly most businesses in this space continue to lean into the same damaging age stereotypes. The most successful brands sell an aspirational lifestyle. They make you feel positive and powerful. And that makes you want the product, so you can keep feeling that way. Yet, what is currently available in the age-related market has none of these qualities.
From one-size-fits-all exercise prescriptions for anyone over 50 (chair yoga, anyone?), to pictures of wrinkly hands and fall prevention reminders, most healthy ageing services scream sickness and dependence. Instead of evoking ‘want’, they instil an unwarranted dread of ageing.
What we want to do about it
We want to change the way everyone ages.
We want to turn longevity into an opportunity rather than a burden.
And rather than having it feel like a needs-based intervention, we want to do it by inspiring you to seek a joyful and vibrant second half of life.
That’s why we have built Simba, the healthy ageing platform that lets everyone take control of how they age.
Our subscription service provides users with expert, personalised, on-demand health coaching to support them with the three key pillars of healthy ageing: fitness, reducing the risk of disease, and community. This is complimented by our mobile app which enables users to capture, track, and share their health data and receive tailored guidance.
By building a continuous care model for ageing, we aim to close the Healthy Life Expectancy Gap and increase your healthy, active and independent years.
With Simba, you can live better for longer (and have one hell of a good time while doing it).