When you’re young, you look envious at those older – as the years pass, you start looking back in the same way at those younger!
Recently, the “Baby Boomers” have been hailed as the generation that had it all. Born in the years after the Second World War, they are the ones living in (and owning) expensive houses, with final salary pensions, and enjoying better health as well as the benefits of an increasing life expectancy.
What about the younger generation, whose lives now revolve around the new technology of social media and are heading to universities in record numbers? The world appears to be at their feet.
The politicians talk about a generation that has never been healthier, with all the advances that medical science can bring, with technology that opens up all sorts of opportunities for a life that could well extend past 100!
How real or true are all these public perceptions of life in 2015? How near is the reality to the dream? This is what we have to work out for ourselves and there is plenty of evidence to suggest many are struggling with the modern world.
If we want a health check, we go to the doctor; they are the experts. It’s the same with a financial check-up; make an appointment to see a specialist, an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA), to make sure you are investing safely and wisely for the future.
A recent snapshot of various surveys about life in the UK and its people has thrown up some disturbing and surprising views.
Despite the mass of recent publicity regarding the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, the 754th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War with Japan – it seems that our historical knowledge is rather lacking.
The makers of a film called The Water Divider, directed by and starring Russell Crowe, about the disastrous Gallipoli campaign during the First World War decided to see just how accurate our knowledge of the recent wars is.
Pretty poor, has to be the honest answer. Less than half of the 2,000 interviewed had a clue what Gallipoli was about; 40% had never heard of the Battle of the Somme and one in three didn’t know what was meant by the Battle of Britain.
Rather more worryingly was that around 5% of those asked thought Germany had been on Britain’s side during the First and Second World Wars!
But the most alarming survey of recent times has been the Good Childhood Guide 2015, conducted by the Children’s Society, a charity, and the University of York, who examined the experiences of 53,000 children, aged 10-12, across 15 countries.
The report found that, despite all the publicized advantages, children in England are among the unhappiest in the world.
As regards to being “unhappy with life as a whole”, England was the second worst country with a 7.1% total – Romanian kids were least unhappy (1.1%), followed by Spain (2.4%), Ethiopia (3.6%), Germany (5%) and South Africa (7%). The unhappiest kids came from South Korea (9.8%).
The report found that more than a third of English pupils had been bullied in the previous month. That and the relentless pressure to look good are combining to make them miserable.
England did fare better in terms of friendship and family relationships, coming sixth and seventh respectively out of the fifteen countries.
One area where we are clearly kidding ourselves is with regards to our bodies and fitness. A survey by David Lloyd Leisure, which has formed a partnership with the British Heart Foundation, revealed that we are ignoring the advice to exercise to avoid an obesity epidemic.
Around 44% confessed to doing no exercise at all. The popular consensus when questioned about their physical state was that our condition was “slightly overweight” with only 15% admitting they were “considerably overweight.”
These findings come as the National Health Service (NHS) estimates that two-thirds of the population will be overweight by 2030 and that the cost to the nation of obesity will be £50billion by 2050 as levels of diabetes, heart disease and cancer rise.
A spokesman from David Lloyd Leisure added: “The study revealed some marked differences between men and women. While women claim to be more health conscious, it’s the men who are actually exercising more.”
Another potential myth is the “we-have-it-all” lifestyle of the Baby Boomers. Eight charities, including Age UK, believe it has become an excuse for politicians doing very little to prepare for an ageing society.
The report showed that one in four of this group rents and another quarter are still paying off the mortgage; for those aged 65-69, that average debt is £40,000.
One in three has no private or occupational pension.
There were major health inequalities. Men living in Richmond, in south-west London, lived on average 17.5 years longer than those in Tower Hamlets, in the east of London.
The one benefit of living in Tower Hamlets, though, is the lowest divorce rate in the UK. Only one in 20 (5%) of marriages end that way, compared to 13% in Blackpool. In fact, retiring to the live by the sea might not be such a good idea after all.
The top ten divorce towns in the UK are all by the sea. The survey by a legal firm concluded that could be because of the “sheer boredom” of coastal living.
There’s also the fact that residents live long than by the sea.
The answer might be “retirement villages”. The International Longevity Centre has found that the elderly are less likely to feel lonely or isolated. In fact 64% claimed they never felt lonely and 82% rarely felt isolated.
The report also revealed that those in the villages felt “a strong sense of control over their daily lives” and 97% felt safe.
The above revealing statistics make a strong case for not relying on anecdotal evidence for making future plans. Hard facts are just as important and you mustn’t let your heart rule your head without checking first.
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