Belfast Telegraph

How life will keep getting better as more of us live to a ripe old age

By Mary Kenny

The future is bright for longevity. Professor Les Mayhew of the Cass Business School predicts that most people will soon live into their 90s and men will live as long as women. So what kind of a society can we expect with a geriatric population boom?

There will be more places to sit down, as in the streets of Paris where there are delightful wooden benches for a pleasant rest.

There will be a boom in cruise holidays to just about everywhere.

Actors will once again be trained to speak up, project their voices and not to mumble, 'naturalistically'. Oldies love going to the theatre, but I know pensioners who have given up on drama because they can't hear a thing.

Yes, hearing aids will improve to the point where they're not fiddlesome little pebbles in your ear which cost thousands and can be lost at the turn of a head.

There will be more movies like The Second Best Marigold Hotel - film producers are realising that there's a big demographic of older folk who go to the cinema.

Evening events will start at 7pm and end at 9.30pm, on the dot.

People won't have to consult ancestry sites to look up their family tree - their great-grandmother will be alive and well and living just around the corner.

The retirement age will be 87 (a serious prediction).

The university campuses will be full of students doing degrees in their 70s.

There will be an increase in clean, attractive public toilets - so often in short supply.

There'll be more publications about gardening, and fewer about sex (maybe).

There ­will be much more choice of clothes and fashions for the old, as the market grasps the fact that not everyone is a size 10 and aged 23.

Water bills to reduce: oldies think that a shower every three days is quite sufficient.

The art of the obituary will greatly expand, as there's nothing oldies like better than reading these mini-biographies of their peers.

There'll be a boom in audio books - so relaxing as you sit in your driverless car. The old have always gone to church more, and anyway, doctors will recommend it, since church-goers are healthier, and less lonely: so religion will revive somewhat.

Invest now in the production of 'soft food': that's the kind of cuisine which can be easily consumed by those who have gone a bit gummy.

There will be periodic outbreaks of pedantry, as oldies tut-tut at the poor use of grammar, recalling previously forgotten schooldays when you might be rapped across the knuckles for saying: "Me and Tommy …" instead of "Tommy and I …"

Yes, more people will suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's: but there will also be more focus on overcoming theses illnesses and more medical attention given to finding a cure. Some medics may go back to recommending smoking, as nicotine stimulates the brain, and you're not in danger of dying young when you're 90.

There will be more TV programmes like Antiques Roadshow, full of oldies raiding their attics for forgotten treasures that might be worth a few bob.

Books in print will survive successfully, despite iPads and tablets, but many of them will be shorter (and in bigger typefaces), as old people already complain that many books are just too long and heavy to lift. (Wolf Hall was a wrist-aching 559 pages). Indeed, the novella ‑short novel - has already made a comeback.

The arts will be in good hands - concert halls, opera festivals, art galleries and literary events are financially supported and kept going by those of mature years.

More restaurants and shops will offer the joys of tranquillity to accompany eating and shopping, as opposed to noise.

Everywhere you look, you'll see fifty shades of grey - artificially dyed blonde, chestnut, red, and purple.

Oldies will have voting power and purchasing power and this may lead to a more conservative society, and yet youth will be worshipped more than ever: what is plentiful is usually reduced in value, and what is rarer is invariably enhanced.

The old will have the numbers, but the beauty and vigour of youth will appear more precious than ever.

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