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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Old-age 'tsar' promotes sex
Companionship 'helps keep the elderly healthy'
Companionship 'helps keep the elderly healthy'
Regular sex and plenty of money in the bank are the key to a long and healthy life, according to the government's old-age "tsar".

Professor Ian Philp, the so-called "old-age tsar" is leading a one-day conference on the health of old-age people on Thursday.

He said: "Sexually active older people live longer and stay healthier than their celibate counterparts.

And he added: "Sex can help elderly people stay healthy like any exercise, yet it seems that the sexual interest remains particularly strong in elderly women."


Sexually active older people live longer and stay healthier than their celibate counterparts

Professor Ian Philp
But having a healthy bank balance is just as important for old people's health said Professor Philp.

"There's a proven correlation between wealth and health at any time of life, but especially so at old age."

The average life expectancy - 78 for British women and 74 for men - has increased by three years over the last decade.

Growing numbers

Over-65s now make up about one fifth of the population, and that figure is set to increase.

Even the number of centenarians is set to increase. In 1950, there were just 300. By 2030, it is estimated there will be more than 35,000.

Professor Philp, national director for older people services, added: "Married old people tend to live longer than single old people," he said.

And people also feel fulfilled if they have children and grandchildren to keep them company in their old age.

But it seems having a religious faith does not increase your longevity.

Professor Philp: "Many old people who tell us they don't fear death say they're not afraid because they've done everything they wanted to do in their life, they've had a happy and successful life and they feel contented regardless of religious beliefs."

Better services

The London conference of health and social care experts will look at ways to modernise services for the elderly.

Care of the elderly demands huge resources, taking up 40% of the NHS budget.

A million people in the public sector look after the elderly, and around 60,000, half of the private sector, also look after the elderly.

Professor Philp said: "We mustn't see old people simply as bed-blockers. "

He added that the NHS and private sector should work together to improve services for the elderly, not by using the private finance initiative, but by "sharing ideas and practices".

He said: "As the number of the population aged 85-plus is increasing it's important that these services are well organised.

"What we need is fully integrated services for dementia, osteoporosis, for strokes and so on."

See also:

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