12 challenges for our ageing nation

Welcome to Age UK’s new blog for everyone interested in later life and our ageing society. Age UK experts will be writing on age-related topics across politics, public policy, service delivery, research, campaigning and international affairs.

Over the next week or so, our main focus will be Wednesday’s Spending Review announcement (no surprise there). We’ll be blogging live while the Chancellor is speaking and providing more detailed analysis in the hours and days that follow. But in my first post, I want to step back from the nitty gritty of spending cuts and policy programmes.

Spending Reviews should be a moment for governments to ask themselves big, long-term questions. So what are the key long-term challenges we face as an ageing society, to which the Government should be responding? In our submission to the Spending Review we picked 12:

  1. Creating a savings and pension culture, to deliver good pension provision for everyone currently in working life
  2. Extending working lives to achieve sustainable national and personal finances as life expectancy rises
  3. Preventing longer periods of illness in later life, through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, the rollout of recent innovation in health and care, and sustained Research and Development.
  4. Reducing levels of inequality within each age cohort and moving towards the progressive eradication of pensioner poverty
  5. Delivering care and support which provides autonomy, security and dignity to frail older people and their families
  6. Fundamentally changing attitudes to later life and ageing
  7. Building communities that can tackle severe isolation and exclusion towards the end of life
  8. ‘Age proofing’ services and environments so they meet the needs and aspirations of every age group, including reform of the NHS to meet the needs of late old age
  9. Engaging people in later life with successive waves of new technology
  10. Re-imagining and re-designing every stage of life in the knowledge of very long life expectancies – ie, how we combine education, work, leisure and retirement across our lives
  11. Supporting strong families and intergenerational ties at a time of huge social change: growing ethnic and cultural diversity, increased family breakdown, and growing domestic and international mobility
  12. Planning for sustainable growth in the share of GDP spent on age-related social security and public services and the long-term fiscal implications

Now, there’s nothing like a list to kick off discussion, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Are these that issues that will really matter over the next decade or so, if we’re going to improve later life in the UK? Have we missed something? Which matter most? And how on earth should politicians, public servants, businesses, charities and individuals set about responding?

Tell us what you think.

By Andrew Harrop

Why Age UK is blogging

This is Age UK’s pilot blog and we’re really excited about it.

Primarily, it will be used to talk about political and policy issues that affect people in later life and some of Age UK’s experts in various key areas will be posting their thoughts over the next few months.

While we don’t believe that any time is more important than any other for older people, the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review and the fallout from the cuts is liable to affect people in ways that no-one can imagine.

The Age UK blog is here to try and make sense of the key decisions and issues that affect people in later life.

And, as we’ve already mentioned, this is a pilot blog and we’re keen for you to get involved and let us know what you think. A blog is nothing without comment and feedback from its audience, so please make your views heard.

We look forward to hearing from you.