Indeed, as you approach 60, debilitating diseases like cancer, dementia, Parkinson's or stroke start to test your body's failing defenses.

However, a study has found that the elderly in Britain these days are increasingly healthy, for whom the age of 60 does not carry a sense of foreboding any more.

The rates of serious illness among the elderly in Britain have nearly halved in a decade and only 8 percent of those aged between 60 and 64 years have been known to be seriously ill, compared to 14 percent in 2002, a International daily report said on Monday, citing research findings.

The study added that among 65 to 69-year-olds, the proportion has fallen from 17 percent to 12 percent.

The study further found that while those in their sixties were healthier, the proportion among those over 80 years of age has risen.

Ross Altmann, a government adviser on older people said,"It's fantastic news, most people in their sixties will not be old in the conventional sense any more."

The findings in a report by the International Longevity Centre, however, showed that serious illness was striking people later in life.

Incidences of stroke and heart attack have fallen the most, helped by a cut in the number of those smoking and also better diets, researchers found.

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