The first generation of “digital over-65s”: it’s one of the results of the “Over-65: a colourful life” a survey carried out by BNP Paribas Cardif, one of the top ten insurance companies in Italy, and carried out by AstraRicerche on a sample of over 700 seniors aged 65-85, to analyse how they live their “new age” in the third millennium and how they have changed their lifestyle and habits in different areas: from health to the relationship with technology, from family to social life and leisure.
The cross-section, slice of life, offered by research is far from the concept of ‘seniority’ offered by tradition: life expectancy has significantly increased, wellbeing and health have increased, the attitude towards life is more positive and, as a result, despite Italy being the second country in the world for the population’s ageing after Japan, the first belief to be dispelled is that this group doesn’t take its toll on society. In our country they represent a true pillar of families and communities, and economic data confirm this.
Nowadays there are about 13,672,000 people over 65 (ISTAT), equal to 22.6% of the current population and there will be 34 million by 2050 (34%): the commitment of grannies (in the care of grandchildren) currently worth 24 billion euros, the economic support to children and their families worth 5.4 billion, provide work to 3 million family caregivers, contribute to the tourism industry for 6 billion euros per year (Federanziani data).
The first astonishing finding is undoubtedly the technological attitude of seniors: they love technology and use it so much that the research has been carried out completely online via smartphones, tablets and computers (one of the first in Italy on this target), dispelling the stereotype of seniors as less than tech people. They share a strong similarity to their younger grandchildren when dealing with technology: instead of a computer, they prefer mobile devices.
Yet that’s not all. The over-65s describe themselves as dynamic and active and, in addition to household chores and housekeeping, don’t give up the activities that keep them happy, such as travelling (54.2%), taking care of themselves (49.1%), playing sports (45.7%) or cultural activities (43.4%). Some attend dancing classes, others enrol in artistic courses, while others prefer to go to the theatre or come back to study. They share strong values and ideals (56.2%) and a “glance to the future” rather than to the past, with a life yet to be spent. They feel curious (47.8%), optimistic (44.1%), able to age peacefully (60.8%) and some are eager to and keen on new experiences (29.6%). While most of them hope to be able in future to do the same activities they are doing today, there is also 35.2% who hope to enjoy greater peace of mind and even 4.5% who hope to broaden said activities over the next 5 years by planning more journeys (+13.7 p.p. to 67.9%), more recreational-sports activities (+4.9 p.p.) and more cultural activities (+6.4 p.p.). All in all, this is the first age group generation to actually plan for the future. There are, however, some critical aspects, such as the low level of happiness and the feeling of not being admired, the possibility for their heath to get worse, as well as being a burden for the national budget (but not for families).
“As for the millenials last year, it was important for us to capture also the Over 65 in the contemporary world, their new role, new needs, different expectations compared to their past peers, and pay due attention to an important contemporary social group, so as to represent a new target that many industries are interested in.” – said Isabella Fumagalli, CEO of BNP Paribas Cardif in Italy –. “Longevity, improved health, technology and familiarity with its application among seniors have changed the paradigm of consumption and supply in the insurance industry. New product and service models have been created, few years ago unthinkable and able to match business targets with the social role of insurance. Now we can develop innovative and sustainable solutions for the 65+, for example, in mobility, travel, health and smart home areas, simply thanks to an app.”
Technology: these 65+’s are the first to be digital
What further differentiates the “new Over 65” is the relationship with technology. More than four out of ten say to “love it”, thanks also to new devices made easier and more user-friendly. Therefore, this category is increasingly smarter towards the Internet, social networks and smartphones, with 66.2% claiming to use them autonomously and 57.1% who particularly appreciated the impact of social networks as it reduces their social isolation. Of course, they shouldn’t be innovators (only 12.5% thinks to be), it’s not their mission, but rather they’re willing to get involved and learn.
Health: active, smart and overall healthy, but worsening is foreseen
Nearly nine out of ten (86.8%) feel overall better than their peers 20/30 years ago. A more active generation, clear headed and strong, both mentally (87.9%) and physically (77.2%), with memory and past recollections even far away (72.7%). In 68% of cases, they feel completely autonomous, with an excellent/good state of health (53.5%). Positive data that in 5-10 years seems, however, likely to worsen, according to their opinion. The portion of those who think to keep an excellent or good health condition, drops (32.8%). Self-sufficiency is also falling sharply from 68% to 19.4%, a clear indication of the need for external support in the coming years. The care network, including the health service, is heavily criticized: only 41.3% consider it accessible and efficient. Companies operating in the private insurance and healthcare sector are, in fact, focusing on offering innovative products dedicated to this age group.
Society and family: claim their social role and don’t feel to be a burden for families
When asked how they perceive their generation, Over65s claim the social role they play in supporting families, both in the care and education of grandchildren (85.5%) and at an economic level (82.2%). They are, therefore, a source of peace for their families and, of course, their help and support to families is grater than what they receive by relatives and friends. According to the seniors interviewed, a priceless resource not limited to the family environment but also to the whole of society (79.4%). No one feels to be a burden for families, neither now nor in the future, even if many of them think, instead, to be a burden for the national budget: more than four out of ten are sure to be an encumbrance on public finances in a significant way. They claim an increasingly active role, so much so that many of them already feel to be a social group for companies (36.3%), asking for more, in terms of services or products tailored to allow them to create a culture of well-being and health (86.4%).
What matters most for the Over 65
Not being a burden to others is one of the truly fundamental aspects for seniors. First place is given to clear-headedness and good mental condition (73.7%), which ironically goes beyond being healthy and in good physical condition (68.2%), while the other great desire is to be independent (64.5%), so as to provide for themselves by themselves. Only a tiny part indicate being looked after. Peace and stability (51.6%) prevail over being well integrated in a domestic and social context (37.5%): as if by saying, ” better peaceful than being taken care of”.
Fears: falls, aches and pains, theft or battery
A more dynamic approach obviously entails a greater risk for one’s own safety. What are the main fears? First, to fall into the house causing cracks or other significant injuries (50.2%) and the occurrence of small ailments that would prevent from attending any course or program they are enrolled in (47%). There are also fears unrelated to health, such as being stolen or assaulted in one’s own home (42.9%) or having an unexpected event that nullifies or interrupts a journey (35.8%).
Loneliness: not for all
Being alone split the Seniors: while 36.7% say they live more and more in loneliness, 31.5% think differently. Similarly, but with more pride and claim to be more relevant, 31% of the interviewees consider the elderly to be poorly valued, playing a minor and decreasing role, while 35.2% disagree.