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The challenge of caring for Britain's ageing population

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 08.34.30 Published yesterday was an extraordinarily detailed report from the Centre for Social Justice, examining Britain's ageing society and the extent to which family breakdown was leaving older people isolated and lonely.

Here are some of the key facts from the report:

  • Life expectancy: One in four boys and one in three girls born today will now live to 100.
  • Dependency boom: By the year 2024 one in five people will be of pensionable age; a 32% increase.
  • Concentrated poverty: One in five pensioners in the UK lives below the poverty line and just under a third of care home residents are estimated to be malnourished.
  • Loneliness: Almost one in ten people aged 65 and over report regularly or always feeling lonely.
  • In need of Care: The number of older people in the UK in need of care and support is expected to soar by 1.7 million over the next 20 years and that the number with dementia could double in 30 years.

The report - The Forgotten Age - does not include many policy prescriptions. It has the feel of the 2006 CSJ report, Breakdown Britain, which documented the nature of poverty in the UK. It was followed by Breakthrough Britain, which set out solutions.

Gavin Poole, CSJ Director, commented:

“The ‘pathways to poverty’ we identified in Breakthrough Britain all extend into older age. The scars of a drug or alcohol addiction will be worn throughout older age in terms of finances and health; the breakdown of a family creates a fragmentation of a potential care and support system for its oldest members; a lifetime of economic dependency translates to a lack of stability and security.”

A glaring example of this devastating social breakdown is family breakdown – now impacting the old. High rates of divorce and the collapse of long-standing cohabiting relationships are weakening the bonds between pensioners and their children, meaning that fewer are able or willing to care for their ageing parents as they encounter the physical and emotional strains of their later years."

> The full CSJ press release.


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