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Fears over living standards for older people

Published on 26 February 2014 03:00 PM

Over three-quarters of people feel living standards will fall as they approach old age, according to a new survey for The Guardian.

Amid growing concern about pensions, health and social care, rising living costs and marginalisation, just over 11% of those polled said they expect the standard of living for older people to improve over the next 20 years, against 79% who disagreed.

Only 29%, meanwhile, felt the standard of living of older people in the UK was currently at a good level, compared with 46% who did not.

The extensive research, which asked the opinions of more than 1,600 older people, carers, professionals working with older people and members of the public, paints a gloomy picture of the future.

Growing financial divide

In fact, a large number think there is a growing divide between those who are financially secure as they retire and those who are struggling in their old age.

'Some people's standard of living will be good but a lot of people's isn't,' commented one respondent. 'And I expect the large gap between the haves and the have-nots to grow.'

Another said: 'Pensions are worth nothing, care is being cut back, people are living longer, jobs are going digital. All this, to me, adds up to a hideous time ahead, potentially, for older people.'

Government and society 'woefully underprepared'

More than 70% of the individuals involved in the survey did not believe older people's overall quality of life will rise in the next two decades, compared with under 16% who did.

Furthermore, 77% did not believe public services are working in a co-ordinated way to meet the challenges on the horizon.

The findings echo those of a paper published last year by a Lords select committee on ageing, which concluded that the Government and society were 'woefully underprepared' for demographic change.

'There are some huge challenges ahead'

With the number of over-65s expected to rise by 51% and the number of over-85s to more than double by 2030, the Ready for Ageing? report stated major changes were needed across society if it was to cope.

'There are some huge challenges ahead,' declared Claire Turner, head of ageing society at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

'Many of the issues people point to in the survey about quality of life and the need for good support and housing are really important.'

Mervyn Kohler, policy adviser at Age UK, says there is much that can be done by local government, voluntary organisations and the private sector to make older people's quality of life better.

From training and workplace support for those who want to stay in work longer, to coming up with ways in which our towns and cities could be better laid out to help to maintain older people's independence for longer.

‘Transport options, public seating and public lavatories are all important bits of infrastructure if we are going to give older people the opportunity to remain active and engaged with society,' he says.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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