It is projected that by 2040 nearly one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 or over. Demographic changes have been driven – at least in-part – by significant improvements in life expectancy, which in the UK has increased from 70.0 for men and 76.0 for women since 1980, to over 79.0 and 82.5 respectively.
Improvements in life expectancy are a cause for celebration, though too often these extra years of life are spent in poor health and/or social isolation. A comprehensive public policy approach is therefore required to ensure the health and wellbeing of a population that includes a greater proportion of older people.
Action in this area needs to extend to more than just the absence of disease; it should look to support the ability and opportunity for people to play an active role in society and shape their own lives as they grow older.
The British Medical Association has published a report, which looks at ageing and health. The series of briefing papers focus on issues such as older people’s mental health, living with long term conditions and supporting carers.