1.4 million people in the UK are now aged over 85 and the numbers of older people continue to rise. Age UK’s new report, Agenda for Later Life 2012, looks at how public policy is meeting the challenges of an ageing society both at home and abroad.
This annual stock take sets out our longer term vision and the priorities for action in each area. We outline the opportunities to build on the positive developments of 2011, such as the publication of the Dilnot report on care funding, proposals for reform of State Pensions and the abolition of the Default Retirement Age.
While the Coalition Government is starting to address some of the challenges associated with ageing, action is needed to bring together disparate policy threads and to create an overarching, strategic framework for active ageing for today and tomorrow.
This should cover what Government, local authorities, the private and voluntary sector and individuals need to do. After all, our ageing society affects us all.
Individuals will need to face the reality that we are likely to live longer than previous generations, and think carefully about what we need to do to have the later life to which we aspire.
Businesses will need to respond to the ageing agenda, recognising the needs of older consumers and the growing numbers of older workers, and innovating in new markets.
Civil society must also respond to population ageing, mainstreaming the issue across the work of all community organisations, so many of which rely on older people’s voluntary labour.
Age organisations must practise what we preach, enabling older people to provide their own solutions, and embodying the strategic approach to ageing that we want to see more widely.
Internationally, development agencies and humanitarian relief organisations need to recognise that general programmes are not sufficient to meet the specific needs of people in later life.
Local government will need to recognise that preparing for an ageing society means more than providing social care: it also means developing joined-up strategies to meet the needs of their local populations, taking into account the contributions of older people.
Ministerial leadership is crucial in making links between policy areas that sit in different departments, and the development of an overarching Government framework on ageing during 2012 would be a major step forward.
To find out more about how public policy is shaping later life. Read the full report Agenda for Later Life 2012.