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1m more living with multiple conditions by 2020

Published on 30 September 2015 11:01 PM

New analysis from Age UK suggests that, if nothing changes, 1 million more older people will be living with two or more long-term conditions by 2020.



People are living longer than ever before, yet they're not necessarily living healthier lives. Today, there are around 6 million people in England aged 60 and over living with two or more long-term conditions.

According to the 2011 Census, around 40% of all people aged 65 or over say that a long-term health problem limits their day-to-day activities and quality of life. Analysis by Age UK suggests that if things continue, this number will increase to 7 million in the next five years.

As well as affecting individuals, long-term conditions (LTCs) can also place a burden on health and care systems. LTCs are already the biggest challenge facing the NHS accounting for £7 in every £10 spent on health and social care, 70% of hospital bed days, and half of all GP appointments.

Better support for older people's health a priority

As we celebrate International Older People's day, now is the chance to look at what needs to change. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has today released a report, World Report on Ageing and health, which further demonstrates that supporting people to maintain their health, wellbeing and independence as they age needs to be a priority both here in the UK and worldwide.

The WHO report calls for five key actions:

  • A commitment to healthy ageing.
  • Better alignment of healthcare systems and the need to address the demands of older age in a more integrated way.
  • The development of long-term care systems that work and WHO warns that ‘in the 21st century, no country can afford not to have a comprehensive system of long-term care'.
  • The need to create age-friendly environments.
  • Improving measurement, monitoring and to have better understanding of older people.

'We need a more integrated health system'

In the UK, without intervention the focus of NHS care will increasingly become support for people with long-term conditions rather than short-term interventions for people with urgent or acute health needs. Better planned and integrated care would not only improve and save lives but also save the NHS money.

'Age UK supports the need for more integrated services to meet the needs of our ageing population,' Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK, said, 'Ageing is inevitable for us all and we must do more to make the UK and the world a great place to grow older.'

Ageing is an issue that needs to be tackled globally, as shown by the WHO report.

The global number of older people is increasing and is expected to reach over 2 billion by 2050, with some of the greatest increases taking place in developing countries.

Read Age International's response to the WHO report.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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