Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Government warned on ageing society

A poll conducted by older people's housing and care provider Anchor found 77% did not think ministers were ready to cope with society's changing demographics

More than three-quarters of people believe that the Government is "not ready" for the impact of an ageing population, a poll suggests.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance - which is made up of eight leading charities - called on ministers to take action after a poll conducted by older people's housing and care provider Anchor found that 77% did not think ministers were ready to cope with society's changing demographics.

And 76% went on to say that a Cabinet member should take responsibility to ensure that the Government is preparing for an ageing society.

The survey, conducted on 2,200 adults across the UK, also found that 84% of people think that more needs to be done to educate people about planning and paying for care as they get older

The news comes as figures show that the number of elderly people over the age of 90 has rocketed over the last three decades.

There has been a five-fold increase in the number of centenarians over the last three decades, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 1981, there were just 2,420 people aged 100 and over living in England and Wales, but by 2012 the figure shot up to 12,320, the ONS said.

The figures also show that the number of pensioners aged over the age of 90 has almost tripled in three decades since 1981.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance - which is made up of Age UK, Alzheimer's Society, Anchor, Carers UK, the Centre for Policy on Ageing, Independent Age, the International Longevity Centre UK and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - called for the Government to set out plans to deal with the demographic change.

Anchor's chief executive Jane Ashcroft said: "We want to remind the Government that dealing effectively with demographic change won't just benefit the older people of today, but is crucial for a happier old age for future generations.

"We ask Government to prove to the public that they can future-proof policy. 137,000 people signed Anchor's petition for a Minister for Older People. Government cannot bury its head in the sand on the issue."

George McNamara, h ead of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, added: " By failing to prepare for the effect of an ageing population, we could be preparing to fail. While the Government needs to plan for the impact of an ageing society, the public also needs to give more consideration to planning for their own old age.

"We ignore the challenge of an ageing population at our peril. By 2021, over one million people in the UK will be living with dementia. Families affected by the condition already struggle to access vital healthcare and support, with many incurring astronomical costs.

"Both Government and society as a whole need to act now to ensure older people can live with dignity and enjoy later life."

A Government spokesman said: "We want to make the UK one of the best places to grow old in, and we have an ambitious programme to achieve this.

"We are making radical changes to our pension system so people can plan and save for a decent income in retirement.

"We are reforming our public services so that older people get excellent care and support when they need it and are enabled to live independently. It is vital to make the most of the skills and talents that everyone has to offer."

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