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 perhaps 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”
The Autumn Statement announced bleak growth figures and more cuts ahead, reminding us all, once again, we face hard times and unprecedented and prolonged pressure on public services many of which older people rely.
This is why now, more than ever, we all need – the government, public, private, and voluntary sectors and individuals – to work together to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities our growing ageing population presents.
Age UK, together with our national and local partners, is playing its part. In 2012 we reached over 7 million older people with our information and advice services, our handy person service visited nearly 14,000 homes and we helped more than 65,000 older people keep active and healthy through our Fit as a Fiddle programme. In tough economic times we understand supporting people in later life to make informed choices and maximise their wealth, health, independence and wellbeing is important for the individuals and helps drive down inefficient and unnecessary costs in our public services. Continue reading “Working together to support older people”
Last week Age UK hosted a conference that looked at the significant role that the voluntary and community sector plays in managing long-term conditions and what role it can play in the future in partnership with the NHS and social care. This was a great opportunity to bring together clinical commissioning groups, local authority commissioners and voluntary sector ogranisations to consider the reality of the daily life for people that are living with long term conditions, discuss policy aspirations and share examples of positive practice in helping people live well and manage their own health.
For Age UK the issue of long-term conditions is tremendously important.
- At any one time 65 per cent of people in hospital will be over the age of 65.
- In the UK an estimated 4 million older people in the UK have a limiting longstanding illness and if nothing is done to address age-related disease there will be 6 million people with a long-term illness or disability by 2030.
If the Government is committed to making the NHS more effective and efficient it has to adapt for an ageing society. Without addressing this issue we believe that is it unlikely that reform of the NHS will be truly successful. We were therefore delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, spoke at the conference showing the commitment of the Department of Health. Continue reading “Living well with long-term conditions”