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Ageing versus Longevity

Many may wonder what the difference is between these two terms.


At the biological level, ageing results from the impact of the accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage over time. This leads to a gradual decrease in physical and mental capacity, a growing risk of disease and ultimately death


Longevity is the length of the life span independent of the biological aging process.

This excellent article by Professor Andrew Scott was published by the Lancet.

The longevity society – The Lancet Healthy Longevity

I have summarised some of the main points to help you understand the difference and how this can impact you, your family, business, and society.

  1. An ageing society focuses on changes in the age structure of the population, whereas a longevity society seeks to exploit the advantages of longer lives through changes in how we age.
  2. A longevity society represents a new stage for humanity and requires deep-seated notions about age and ageing to be challenged if society is to make the best use of the additional time that longevity brings.
  3. Longevity has profound implications for how life is structured around education, work, marriage, fertility, and retirement, and involves changing behaviours at each age to prepare for these longer lives. Longevity starts at birth.
  4. There is evidence that how we age is malleable and that the relationship between health and age has improved over time, which in turn has helped to support employment at older ages.
  5. The longevity society implies that regions with a currently large young population, such as Africa and the Middle East, need to ensure that those who are young now grow to be the healthiest old-age cohort ever; ageing does not begin when a population becomes old.
  6. Longer lives mean that at every age, individuals have more future ahead of them than their predecessors could have expected to have, so the importance of ageing well increases.
  7. Having increased future time increases the value of investing in education, health, and financial savings.
  8. Another implication of longer lives is the need to work for longer, explaining why the proportion of people remaining in the labour force after age 65 years has increased.
  9. Lifelong learning is needed. This increase in adult education should focus not just on job-related skills, but also on supporting personal transitions along the career path.
  10. The consequence is the emergence of a multi-stage life characterised by shifts, both between full-time, part-time, and flexible working, and in terms of focus, motivation, and roles.
  11. Individuals will need to take greater self-responsibility in navigating their career path, thinking ahead about the skills they need and the roles they want, and choosing when to instigate change and transitions.
  12. A longevity society requires an increased focus on diverse needs and circumstances and policies designed around healthy ageing for all, rather than specific collective policies for the old.


There are more people growing old in the world. That is a demographic challenge and there are many ways in which we as individuals need to think about growing old. Government and society need to prepare for this challenge.

Longevity is happening because of science and understanding the lifespan of humans. We as individuals can understand some of this science and help improve our health span. These changes also open many new opportunities in society.

Nutrition, physical movement, less stress, healthy sleep patterns, deep and diverse relationships as well as purpose in our lives are some of factors, we need to keep track of.

Working for longer, lifelong learning, a growth mindset and being debt free as well as investing for longer may also bring changes that benefit you for a longer lifespan.

Start understanding this today. It can change your life and that of your family and community.