The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old

In an earlier blog we discussed how people aged over 85 are the fastest-growing segment of the UK population. However, this is not just happening here or in other industrialised nations; rather, it’s a global phenomenon.

Age UK is working with the Gerontological Society of America to invite articles from experts around the world on what is happening, why, and what it means for societies, health and social care services, and policy-makers. These submissions has been published in the recent Public Policy and Aging Report.

blogSome of these submissions looked at comparing life expectancy, disease, and disability trends in the 85+ group across countries. There are many variations, but one commonality across all of these countries is that the average person over 85 is a woman living alone in the community, which means governments and societies will have to think about how to meet growing needs for these people without family to look after them. Continue reading “The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old”

The importance of libraries in rural areas

This blog was contributed by Alan Wylie on behalf of Voices for the Library

Joan_reading_WEBLibraries are seen by many as a lifeline and a crucial public service, especially if you are elderly, socially isolated, poor, vulnerable, or all of the above.

In rural areas, the local library, along with the village hall, pub and shop, is the focal point of community life. It’s a safe, trusted place for meeting friends and neighbours, a place for learning, information and leisure and sometimes just a place to keep warm.

If a community is unfortunate enough not to have a static library, then mobile/housebound services fill the gap, helping those that are most isolated.

Let’s look at the data:

Continue reading “The importance of libraries in rural areas”

Preparing for an ageing society

Lord Filkin was bitingly critical in his response to the Government’s response to his committee’s report on Ready for Ageing?’ The report had peered twenty years ahead, and found that the political establishment was ‘woefully underprepared’ for the enormous changes presented by an ageing society:  the response, Lord Filkin declared, showed that the Government was ‘wilfully underprepared’ to address these issues.  He damned its focus ‘on past achievements and the coming election’, when what he wanted was a frank assessment of the changes we will need to make in welfare policies, pensions, health and social care, public services and citizen behaviour over the next couple of decades.440px_older_carers_hands

We share Lord Filkin’s frustration.  It is clear that the Government finds it difficult to think long term – which is perhaps understandable in a Coalition Government with a programme pivoted on 2015. Whilst they have ignored the suggestion to produce a White Paper setting out strategies to approach changing demographics the Government’s rather minimalist response to ask its chief scientist to review the impact of ageing on policies may produce some fruit. Continue reading “Preparing for an ageing society”

Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

Ready for ageing?

Reablement photo by Philippe Leroyer

All too often, our ageing population is represented as an unmitigated disaster for the nation and the words ‘ticking timebomb’ appear with monotonous regularity.

A new report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change offers a refreshing change of perspective. It recognises that ‘longer lives represent progress, and the changes do not mean a great economic or general fiscal crisis’. But it also sets out a number of challenges facing us – and some thoughtful solutions for change.

The Committee, chaired by Lord Filkin, called the nation ‘woefully unprepared’ for the changes ahead and recommended a number of actions for all of us. The Government is challenged to set out its vision for public services in an ageing society in a White Paper.

In particular, the report rightly recognises the increased strain on health and social care and calls for greater integration and much more focus on prevention, early diagnosis and managing long-term conditions, with patients fully engaged in decision-making. Age UK agrees. Continue reading “Ready for ageing?”

Understanding the Oldest Old

In 2012, the Office for National Statistics estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people aged 85 and over in the UK. We are only at the beginning of an estimated escalation of numbers of people in this age group, projected to reach 5 million by 2050. What was formerly a small number of exceptional individuals is rapidly becoming a whole new generation for families in this country: the ‘Fourth Generation’.

Over recent years, through research, our contact with leading experts, and ourRea3 engagement with older people, it has become apparent to Age UK that we all need to know more about these ‘oldest old’. Often what we hear are stereotypes held over from days gone by – that these oldest people are all frail and in care homes, their useful life over. We are concerned that all of us who make decisions concerning their welfare need help to get up to date with their nature and needs.

So we asked experts to write summaries of what is known in their area of research about the ‘oldest old’. We’ve collected these lay-person summaries into a short book, ‘Understanding the Oldest Old.’ Continue reading “Understanding the Oldest Old”

UK life reimagined

A demographic revolution is under way, with more of us living longer than ever before. Fifty years ago there were nearly 20 million people in the world age 80 or over; now that figure stands at about 105 million, and it’s rising fast. Many – though not enough – of our older population are in good health and will retire with a decent income and a strong social network, and many have much to offer society.

The timing of the debate around the aging population in the UK is then 440px_older_carers_handsperhaps unfortunate, held as it is against a back­drop of a beleaguered economy. Since the Coalition Government came to power we have seen cuts to government services and working-age benefits and a further £10 billion reduction in welfare to come. Against this context there is a perception that older people have fared better than most other groups but media commentary suggesting that today’s older people belong to “the lucky generation” obscure the enormous variations that exist. This is particularly stark in terms of poverty and wealth – fewer than half of all retirees have an income big enough to pay income tax.  Older people’s median income lev­els remain lower than those of the population as a whole. Continue reading “UK life reimagined”