Older people are being left to fend for themselves
Published on 11 November 2015 12:01 AM
Public services are being increasingly scaled back or withdrawn, leaving too many older people struggling at home to make do, according to a new Age UK report.
Age UK is calling on the Government to invest in the local services that support older people to remain as independent, well and resilient as possible in its forthcoming Spending Review.
In our annual audit of how public policy is meeting the needs of our ageing population, Agenda for later life, Age UK has highlighted some of the big challenges and opportunities facing older people.
The report says that too many older people who are finding it hard to cope at home are being left to fend for themselves. This is because the public services that are supposed to support them, many of them the responsibility of local councils, are shrivelling away because of Government cuts.
A disturbing trend
While happily, many areas of life for older people have improved - including digital inclusion and employment - progress in other areas has unfortunately stalled or even gone backwards. This is most marked in health, care and wellbeing, continuing a disturbing trend found last year.
Older people who need some help to manage at home are increasingly having to look after themselves, with the numbers of carers aged 85+ more than doubling over a 10-year period, and 1 in 20 people aged 65+ now caring full-time (for at least 50 hours a week).
Read the report
'Lack of care and support' in the community
In the last 10 years there has been almost £2 billion in cuts to older people's social care. Alongside this, there is also great pressure on health care. For example statistics from the Health and Social Care Information centre showed that avoidable admissions are rising significantly; in the case of pneumonia, over twice the number of older people per 100,000 population are being admitted compared to 10 years ago.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said, 'Talk to any A and E doctor, paramedic or ambulance driver and you hear the same story: they are seeing increasing numbers of older people, many living alone, who are not being looked after properly at home and who are having to come into hospital, partly because of the lack of care and support for them in the community.'
With mounting pressures on council budgets, the overwhelming concern now is a predicted council funding gap of a massive £6 billion by 2016/17. This, coupled with huge pressure on community and primary health care budgets, is set to undermine still further the essential support systems which are there to protect older people, including social care and adult safeguarding.
Age UK is calling for the Government to invest in care for older people. Show your support and sign our Don't Cut Care petition.