Ageing well

I spent the last week with two friends from the US. We go back quite a long way and they are both now of retirement age, with one being 66 and other 81. I am still the baby of the group. We toured several gardens, including the Rose Garden in Greenwich, and the Poison Garden at Alnwick. I learned too many sinister things about rhubarb leaves and giant hogweed, but it was a delightful trip up north.

As my 81-year old friend reminded me, we get old when we stop connecting with people. I waved her off very early this morning to the next leg of her journey, which is to Denmark. You have been warned, Europe. She is a force of nature.

It’s a good combination of genes, consistent activity and eating well, for her. And she is not alone. By 2050, the global population is set to be made up of one in six people over the age of 65, while right now it is one in 11, according to the United Nations. That will amount to 1.5 billion people, up from 703 million. If you get to 65, in countries with more older citizens, you are likely to live 25 per cent of your life expectancy beyond that age.

These numbers mean that there will be more people with complex issues, and the challenge is to make sure they have happy, healthy lives. Dairy can often provide easily digestible nutrition for folks whose appetites may have lessened. Dairy UK’s Stronger for Longer event last year, examined the research done in using dairy to slow bone loss, preserve muscle mass and add nutrition to the diet of the oldsters among us. Adding 3.5 servings of dairy per day to a diet showed benefits for most older people.

My friend ate a fair bit of dairy while she was visiting, I am happy to report. Let’s face it, the cheese stands out here. Always room for a bit of Stilton.

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