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Two older women participating in Age UK's Fit for the Future project.

We want to see a world where everyone in later life can feel well and enjoy life.

The challenge

We are living longer, but people spend more of their later years living with disability and multiple long-term conditions. Over two thirds of people aged 85 and over in the UK have a disability or limiting longstanding illness.

Loneliness also has a profound impact on quality of life, with serious implications for physical and mental health. Today in the UK, a million older people say they are often or always lonely. People who are very lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who are not.

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Finding and using health services

Getting help if you're feeling depressed

What we do

We inspire older people to get active and be healthier, offer a telephone befriending service to tackle loneliness and isolation, and carry out research into brain health to learn more about how we age and how we might tackle conditions like dementia.

Our work today

Fighting loneliness

Call in Time is our national befriending service, which puts older people in touch with volunteers by telephone. Many of the older people who benefit from the service are referred to us by GPs, local Age UKs, care providers or family members.

In 2014/15 we planned to reach 1,000 older people with the support of 10 corporate partners. We are delighted that 15 partners have enabled us to contact 1,226 older people.

Offered a friendly voice to 1,226 older people, through Call in Time, our telephone befriending service

Promoting independence

Our active ageing programmes focus on improving older people’s mental and physical wellbeing, with the aim of increasing the time people remain healthy and delaying the need for more intensive health and social care services.

In 2014/15 the programmes engaged 5,012 older people in activities delivered by local Age UKs. Activities range from walking football sessions to Tai Chi. This figure exceeds the target we set at the start of the year by 135%.

Find out more about looking after your mind and body

Shaping how we age in future

Ground-breaking discoveries continued to emerge from The Disconnected Mind, our world-leading research project that explores why and how our thinking skills and brain structure change as we age. Age UK funds the University of Edinburgh to carry out research into what we can do to protect our cognitive health in later life.

This year, analysis of health, biological, genetic and lifestyle data collected from hundreds of people in their 70s found that, among other things, speaking more than one language and having more complex jobs can help protect cognitive health.

It also found that smoking might thin the cortex, the outer layer of the brain, and jeopardise thinking skills – a good reason, alongside protecting our physical health, to quit smoking.

Our plans for 2015/16

  • We will continue to support the Disconnected Mind research project so that we can learn more about how we age.
  • We will identify and promote new approaches to living well with dementia and pilot new dementia services.
  • Through our local partners, we will test new ways of reducing loneliness and isolation and also support the development of our partners’ loneliness services.
  • We will ensure that 81,000 older people in 16 developing countries receive eye care services.

If you'd like more information about our work, download our Annual Review. Alternatively, you can download and read Age UK’s full reports of Trustees and Annual Accounts for 2014/15.

Annual Review: Our Big Moments 2014/15 (PDF 1 MB)

Report of Trustees and Annual Accounts 2014/15 (PDF 3 MB)

Our fit for the future programme encouraged Anna to get back into cycling after 25 years.
Anna makes new friends

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Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081