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Ageing well in the 21st century

Dan Robotham (Senior Researcher at the Mental Health Foundation, London, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 16 September 2011




This paper aims to show how the ageing of the baby boomers will affect public mental health.


Mental health in later life can be influenced by wealth, discrimination, relationships, physical health, and participation in meaningful activity. This literature review appraises each aspect in relation to baby boomers' lives; the review is neither systematic nor exhaustive.


The baby boomers appear wealthier than their parents, but will live for longer in a state of poor physical health, and will have smaller families separated by greater distances. They also have a history of championing marginalized groups, and may challenge age discrimination.

Social implications

Increased longevity has social implications; culturally, economically, politically. In the UK, there are now approximately 17 million baby boomers soon to reach later life, a varied and ethnically diverse generation. Mental health services, especially for dementia, need to adapt to meet their needs. Baby boomers now hold politically influential positions, making decisions affecting their own lives as they enter later life. Increased wealth inequalities mean that the more affluent may enjoy meaningful activity and afford better mental health care, but the less affluent may need to work in unrewarding jobs to pay for it. Recognition of these inequalities should be at the forefront of any decision regarding mental health care in older adults.


This paper reviews a range of contextual literature while focusing specifically on mental health. It would be of interest for anyone wishing to read about protecting the mental health of an ageing population.



Robotham, D. (2011), "Ageing well in the 21st century", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 133-140.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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