According to the most recent statistics from the charity Age UK, there are now 11 million people aged 65 or over in this country — and three million of us are aged 80 or over. Proof, it it were needed, that we are now living longer, healthier lives thanks to advances in medicine and a deeper understanding of diet, exercise and what's good for us generally. In fact, at age 65, men can expect to live on average another 10.1 years in good health; and women can expect to live another 11.6 years in good health.

So forget the OAP stereotypes: many of today's senior people are fitter and more active and want — and demand — more out of life than previous generations ever did at their age. Retirement is no barrier, either. In fact, it's often a new beginning. Many older people are volunteering, fundraising, mentoring, and home visiting and generally making a difference at all levels in their communities. In the 12 months to June 2012, for example, there were over 2.5 million volunteers aged 65-plus in England. And, naturally, people in later life are carers, too, for both the old (a partner with health issues, for instance) and the young (helping out with the grandchildren). Age really is a state of mind.

Challenges

Ageing isn't without its challenges, of course; and we explore some of these in this supplement. Dementia, for example, is one of the main causes of disability in later life, and it's also a condition which is affecting increasing numbers: it was estimated that there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK in 2015, rising to over one million by 2025. Dementia doesn't only affect the sufferer — it's something that all family members have to come to terms with. Angela Rippon, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, tells us about her own personal experiences after her late mother was diagnosed with dementia; and why she feels that the condition is now at last beginning to receive the attention it deserves. Plus, staying with health, we investigate the latest treatments for bones and joints — a subject that's particularly acute during cold winter weather.

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osbourne signalled new tax breaks for married pensioners, which means that planning for your future is now more relevant than ever. One way to plan ahead is, of course, by making a Will; yet, incredibly, many of us don't have one. Here, we look at Will planing, and we also engage with the festive spirit of giving by exploring how to make a donation to a charity in your Will, and so leave a lasting legacy. It's easy to do — so why aren't more of us doing it?

Getting older isn't something to be wary or frightened of. It's something to aspire to. By tackling some of the issues we face in later life, this supplement aims to celebrate something that — if we're lucky — we'll do, and do well: age. It's time to embrace Senior Living.