A new report on Britain’s ageing society calls for a radical overhaul of the way we live and work.
The Government, businesses and charities need to radically rethink work, health and housing to ensure the next generation of older people have a good quality of life as people live longer, according to a report by the Centre for Ageing Better.
Its The State of Ageing in 2019 report says Britain needs to respond to the radical demographic shift now taking place, with the number of people aged 65 and over set to grow by more than 40% in just two decades, reaching over 17 million by 2036. It adds that the least well-off over 50s face far greater challenges than wealthier peers and are likely to die younger, become sicker earlier and fall out of work due to ill-health.
The research brings together publicly available data sources to reveal vast differences in how people experience ageing depending on factors such as where they live, how much money they have or what sex or ethnicity they are. While people aged 65 can expect to live just half of the remainder of their life without disability, those in less affluent parts of the country will die earlier and be sicker for longer, says the report, adding that ill health is a major cause of people falling out of work prematurely and can affect quality of life and access to services like healthcare.
The report calls on employers to do more to support people to keep working in fulfilling jobs as long as they want, especially those managing health problems or caring responsibilities, enabling them to save more for their later life. That means more flexible working.
The report also recommends a greater focus on tackling the causes of preventable ill health and disability including poor diet and low levels of physical activity. And it says the Government must require all new homes to be built to be accessible and adaptable as standard and commit to improving the condition of existing housing.
Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Living for longer can provide us with huge opportunities to enjoy ourselves and spend time doing the things we love. But this report is a wake-up call for us all – many people in their 50s and 60s now, particularly those who are less well-off, simply won’t get the quality of later life that they expect or deserve.
“We must act now to add life to our years; to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of a longer life. Without radical action today to help people age well, we are storing up problems for the future and leaving millions at risk of poverty and poor health in later life.”