“The data from Tilda is nothing but heartening and one of the positive things is that life gets better as you get older,” said Tilda’s Rose Anne Kenny yesterday.
“Quality of life starts at age 50 and it gets better from 50 up to about 78, and then it starts to dip and the reason the quality of life dips at that stage is almost predominantly because of diseases.”
Prof Kenny is the principal investigator of the study, which is now in its 10th year. So far, it has tracked the health and lifestyles of 8,500 over-50s in Ireland.
“We are all living longer,” said Prof Kenny. “We are living longer by five hours, per day, per three months, per year. What that means in vertical terms is that a baby girl born today will live on average three months longer than her sister born last year.
“The data in Ireland at the moment means that a man can expect to live on average up to 79, and a woman to 83, although the gap is narrowing. If you make it to 85, you can expect to live to 91.”
Speaking at the launch of the new results yesterday was Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee.
“We’re all living longer which is fantastic,” said Ms McEntee. “Whether it’s because of our health services getting better or it’s our attitude to eating or exercise, I think we should celebrate that.
“I don’t think we should see it as a burden.”
The research also showed that one in two people over the age of 50 provided full-time childcare for grandchildren.
Prof Kenny said that this childcare represented a “huge invisible contribution to the economic status of the country”.