The UK’s older population continues to grow: as of March 2012, 1.4 million people in this country are now aged over 85.
But do the current policies of UK government and businesses meet the needs of this expanding age group?
The fact that increasing numbers of people are now living to over 85 masks significant differences in life expectancy across England. And our research shows that these differences are increasing.
The gap between areas with the highest life expectancy rates and those with the lowest now stands at 8.6 years for men and 9.1 years for women.
Last year 48% of people thought that discrimination on the grounds of age was widespread; in 2012, this figure has jumped to 61%.
Our research showed that in the UK, 64% of people see age discrimination as a serious issue; this is the second highest figure in Europe after France.
The importance of older consumers continues to grow, with household spending by the 65+ age group rising to £109 billion. The number of older people who are online also continues to increase.
Yet 39% of people aged 65 and over think that businesses have little interest in older consumers. Many older people also have difficulty getting to key local amenities such as their local shop (13%), bank (24%) or hospital (34%).
The number of older people still working has risen slightly, with 65% of people aged 50–64 now in jobs.
But the number of ‘workless’ (unemployed or economically inactive) older people is a major concern, with over 1 million of them wanting to work. 42% of those aged 50-64 who are unemployed have been without a job for at least 12 months, while 24% have been unemployed for at least 2 years.
16 per cent of people over State Pension age are living in poverty, and fuel poverty is on the rise, affecting an estimated 3.3 million older households.
Despite struggling to make ends meet, a third of people that are eligible for Pension Credit are still not receiving it.
The picture for tomorrow’s pensioners is worrying too, with only 38 per cent of all working-age people contributing to an occupational or personal pension.
There has been no improvement in the area of dignity in hospital care with the latest in-patient survey showing that over one in five older people (21 per cent) say that they are not always treated with dignity and respect.
And the picture for older people receiving help at home also isn’t rosy, with falling numbers of older people receiving support to stay at home, or low-level home help.
Age UK believes it's essential the Government creates an overarching, strategic framework for active ageing for today and tomorrow. This should cover what Government, local authorities, the private and voluntary sector, and individuals need to do, and reflect the fact that our ageing society affects us all.
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