There doesn’t seem to be any reason to celebrate living to 100

When I was a little girl, I imagined living to be 100 and running a sweet shop. I saw myself as one of those pink-cheeked old grannies with a grey bun that everyone adores – but the reality of very old age is often quite different, writes Jenny Eclair

Tuesday 28 September 2021 09:27
comments
<p>‘For every Captain Tom, there are many very elderly people who, given the choice, would rather quietly shuffle off this mortal coil’ </p>

‘For every Captain Tom, there are many very elderly people who, given the choice, would rather quietly shuffle off this mortal coil’

How do you feel about living to be 100 years old? Apparently the chances you might make it are increasing at an almost frightening rate. Last year, in the UK, there was a year-on-year increase in centenarians of nearly 20 per cent, with women over 90 outnumbering men by more than double – and the highest proportion of both sexes living in Wales.

This stark rise surely owes a great deal to the baby boom following the First World War, improvements in social and housing care – and (obviously) some incredible advances in modern medicine. Covid will have given these figures a knock over the past 12 months, but the fact remains: getting that telegram off the Queen (or whoever) has never been more likely.

But how many of us really fancy it? When I was a little girl, I imagined living to be 100 and running a sweet shop. I saw myself as one of those powdery-pink-cheeked old grannies with a grey bun that everyone adores, but the reality of very old age is often quite different. My child’s eye view never factored in incontinence – or senility.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments