chapter  13
Death, dying and bereavement in old age: working towards a ‘good death’ for elderly individuals
ByWylie, Belinda and Smith, Michael
Pages 14

In the Western world, life expectancy is at an all-time high, with mean life expectancy in many Western countries now exceeding 80 years (World Health Organisation, 2013). Further evidence suggests that the likelihood of living to very old age is set to continue further. Data from the UK predicts that 7.7% of individuals currently aged 80 years will live to reach the age of 100, whereas 23% of current 20-year-olds will live to be centenarians (Evans, 2011). The somewhat obvious consequence of a longer life expectancy is that people are more likely to die at an older age. Current statistics from England reveal that two-thirds of people die over the age of 75, while one in six people are aged over 90 years old at the time of death (Ruth & Verne, 2010). While statistics on the leading causes of death comprise a number of illnesses associated with ageing (e.g. dementia, heart disease; see Table 13.1 ), it is clear that the causes of death also change as individuals reach older adulthood.