Physically You are likely to reach retirement healthier, fitter, and with more years of life to look forward to than your parents had. Exactly how much longer you may live than the previous generation depends on a number of factors. These include – Your social class Your level of education and income Your working and living environment. But the big picture is you are likely to have more years, with a better quality of life, than had you retired thirty or so years ago. This has come about for the following reasons: Medical science Many conditions – chronic and otherwise – can now be managed or treated by drugs. And the impact of major life-takers, like cancer and heart disease, having been significantly reduced. New approaches to heart disease have also lengthened lives and their quality. Let’s hear it for statins, stents, surgery and more. Less of an issue for us too are conditions that limited the mobility of our parents in retirement, like arthritis and limb and joint problems. This is thanks to new drugs and the relative ease with which new knees and hips can be provided. External factors In the workplace, changing employment patterns have brought less manual work – with its toll on bodies and health. And environmental and health and safety legislation have played their part too. Public health education has created a steady flow of messages like ‘low fat’, ‘watch your cholesterol’ and ‘eat five a day’ have been streaming at us for a decade or more. And many of us have been listening and acting with great benefit. Wiser living Our parents grew up with the belief that smoking was good for them and a belly-buster fry up could not be beaten. That, and more, robbed them of both heath and years when retirement came. Of course, it was not all bad for them. Their health benefited from the absence of fat-making fast food, a limited dependence on processed foods, lots of home cooked fresh vegetables and spending more time in the open air. What they didn’t have on their side were the great advances in medical science – which now deal with the damage we do to ourselves. However, our generation has grown up taking better care of itself due to what has been learned about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.