older man walking and being active in Devon

Bringing Together Devon Networks Supporting People to Live, Longer, Better

When we say “live, longer, better” the first two words are a societal reality, we are all living longer. There is however work to be done on the last word, ‘better’. Here we explain more about how we can learn together locally to ensure the people of Devon maximize every life-minute.

Living Longer

Professor Andrew Scott an expert in the Economics of Longevity explains:

“Every decade since 1840, life expectancy has increased by two to four years.”

He goes on to say that this means people born in the 1960s and 1970s will live well into their nineties or beyond.

Reaching one hundred years old is still relatively rare. Although with considerable improvements in health care over the last 50 years, from reducing infant mortality to tackling age related disease, many will reach a century of years.

In the UK, The Queen can send a special congratulatory message to those who reach one hundred years old, and the data tells us this has increased considerably.

The Office for National Statistics estimated there were 15,120 centenarians (people aged one hundred years and over) in the UK in 2020. As a result, the office managing the congratulatory process, had to increase their ‘Centenarian Team’ to cope with the increase, and the fact that we are living longer.

The point is clear, just after WW1 there were 100 people in the UK who had reached one hundred years of age. Today there are over 15,000.

Helping to Reduce Frailty and Making a Difference in Devon

In Devon more than 381,000 people are over fifty years of age, almost half the population, and there are nearly 30,000 people aged over eighty-five years.

But what about living better? What about living a fulfilled, active, connected and productive life whilst ageing. Here-in lies a challenge.

Active Devon has teamed up with Sir Muir Gray and the ‘Live, Longer, Better’ revolution, as a cornerstone to much of our work. We are building on the success of Connecting Actively to Nature and existing work in helping to reduce frailty to really make a difference in the wellbeing of later life audiences.

What is Live, Longer, Better?

Live, Longer, Better is a cultural revolution pioneered by Sir Muir Gray to enable longer, better life for older adults. It is also a prevention-based approach ‘to reduce the need for health and social care’ and more recently it is a means to ‘reverse the effects of lockdown’.

The work itself is supported by Active Partnerships across England such as Active Devon. By bringing together networks of professionals and volunteers, we can learn together. The idea is that this approach will enhance and release a collective power. This cohesion can support new ways of thinking for older people to become active (physically, cognitively and emotionally) in local places, many of whom are managing one or more long-term conditions.

We have identified later life as a priority audience in our emerging strategy, influencing health and care systems on the importance of movement in supporting people to live, longer, better. Plus, supporting communities to value movement as being vital in ageing well.

Learning Together to Increase Opportunities for Optimal Ageing

As a further example, in Torbay we are convening a series of local network learning events, connecting physical activity practitioners, community leaders, policy influencers and social prescribers. This enables us to grow knowledge and understanding together and increase opportunities for optimal ageing.

Our aspiration is that we will share this learning through our media channels and website and keep building momentum. We hope to use platforms such as our website to hold information on learning events and ways to get involved, alongside a library of resources. All of which will contribute to the growing pace of the live, longer, better revolution.

There is an increasing number of Devon residents reaching one hundred years old. However, whether they reach this number or not, we view it as our job to ensure the people of Devon maximize every life-minute of the journey.

Find Out More

Are you a health or care professional, policy influencer, community leader or volunteer, or work in a similar role? If so, and you would like to get in touch to find out more, please contact Gareth Dix, Director of Strategic Relationships via hello@activedevon.org or by using our Contact Us form.