Millions more people can expect to live their last years in poverty and hardship, with increasing health challenges, a damning independent report has said.
An increasing number of people reaching old age is putting pressure on health services, the Centre for Ageing Better, who ran the report, said.
But Dr Anna Dixon from the Centre was keen to assert “our current rates of chronic illness, mental health conditions, disability and frailty could be greatly reduced if we tackled the structural, economic and social drivers of poor health earlier”.
By 2037, one in four of the population will be over 65.
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The figure for the 65-and-overs in the UK is expected to almost double in the next two decades, growing by 40%, while households with members aged 85-and-over is the fastest growing statistic.
The report points out a wealth disparity with ageing, that the poorest in society are three times as likely to retire early due to health complications and the poorest men in society are three times as likely to develop chronic heart disease than the wealthiest.
Additionally, the poorest women are also three times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than the wealthiest women.
While we are all living longer, the report reveals how more of us are experiencing health problems in middle age which we’re living with for longer.
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“We are experiencing a colossal demographic shift,” the report reads. “Living ten years longer than our parents’ generation on average and nearly two decades longer than our grandparents’ generation. this social revolution has implications for every part of society and how we think about and live our lives”.
The Stage of Ageing in 2019 report ultimately suggests “we are living longer than ever before but millions of us risk missing out on a good later life”.
Minority Groups Worst Off
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The results also suggest single women, and ethnic minorities in their old age experience higher levels of poverty than white caucasians.
In terms of those minority groups who experience poverty, “the figure stands at 29% of Asian or Asian British people and 33% of Black or Black British people, compared to 14% of white people aged 65 or over”.
Meaning Asian and Black people are twice as likely to be poor in their old age, according to the report.
Human Rights Watch Echo Fears
An independent report by the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch revealed a similar story for the UK’s ageing population.
Having conducted over 100 interviews with those in their more advanced years and a series of charitable bodies, service providers, policy experts and more, they concluded “older people in England… face considerable challenges in accessing the social services which they need to live independent, dignified lives”.
NHS Funding Commitment
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Chancellor Philip Hammond declared an end to austerity in his budget in October 2018, where he re-confirmed commitment to an £8.4 billion spike to the NHS.
He promised “more support to our public services” to accommodate for the needs of an ageing generation and also pledged an extra £2 billion per year on mental health, which is a fundamental human right just as physical health is for us all.