Call to create a new framework for ageing
Published on 06 March 2012 01:00 PM
Following recent focus on inadequate hospital care for older people, the crisis in social care and the delay in the implementation of age discrimination legislation, Age UK is calling on the Government to create a new visionary framework for ageing to enable us all to prepare better for later life.
Age UK believes that the unprecedented opportunities created by longer life expectancy also present the country with challenges that must be met with strong leadership and vision.
The framework should provide older people with protection and security whilst enabling them to fulfil their potential.
It must be backed up with support from business which needs to adapt to an ageing population, both as workers and consumers, by individuals who must carefully plan for its future and civil society.
Age UK's figures show that older people in the UK are now more diverse than ever in terms of income, ethnic mix, health, needs and aspirations. Increasing life expectancy is leading many individuals to re-evaluate their expectations of later life, but businesses and Government are not adapting quickly enough to a growing older population.
For example, the over 65s market is worth £109billion a year yet older people are often unable to find products that meet their needs.
Unless both public and private sector leaders embrace the demographic changes, Age UK fears that the benefits brought by increasing life expectancy could be ignored as the country fails to adapt and politicians continue to deal with critical issues, for example adult social care.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said, 'We can't afford to keep our heads in the sand over one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation - our ageing population. We need to be better prepared as individuals, in government and in the private sector if we are to make the changes we need.
'Increasing life expectancy is one of the great triumphs of medical and social progress - we now need to work to ensure that those extra years of life are as fulfilling as possible for older people. To do this we need, as a society, to jettison traditional views of what life should be after 65 without losing sight that many older people need increasing care and support in their later years.
'The government's abolition of the mandatory retirement age and introduction of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions are all moves in the right direction but we can't afford to take our foot off the pedal if we want to create a society that both cares for and makes the most of the potential of its older people'
Age UK's call comes in its Agenda for Later Life 2012 report which outlines the charity's calls to action and also presents a unique 360 degree look at what life is like for older people in austerity Britain from health, to income, discrimination, housing, transport and financial services.
While the latest figures show older people are now more diverse than ever, many are united by struggling to cope with the rising cost of living and fear what the future may hold for them. The statistics show:
- 3.3 million households aged 60 plus in England in fuel poverty.
- 1.8 million older people living in poverty. 16% of people over current State Pension Age.
- Over 1 million aged over 65 are malnourished.
- A rising gap in life expectancy for men between the best and worst local authorities in England.
- 16% of people aged 65 plus who say it's difficult to get to their nearest supermarket.
- 15% of people aged 65 plus who say it's difficult to get to their GP
- 24% of people who say it's difficult to get to their bank.
- 61% of people in the UK think that age discrimination is widespread up from 48%.
- 31% of people aged 65-74 volunteer at least once a month.
- 1.41 million people aged 85 plus in the UK
The report comes in the wake of the Government's recent surprise announcement that ground-breaking legislation to ban age discrimination in goods and services, including the NHS and the provision of social care, has been delayed for at least another six months sending a worrying message about its commitment to fighting prejudice against older people.
The report is being launched at the Agenda for Later Life 2012 conference at the Victoria Park Plaza hotel in London on 8 March. Speakers include Martin Wheatley of the new Financial Conduct Authority, Professor Alan Walker of the New Dynamics of Ageing programme at the University of Sheffield and Jo Ann Jenkins of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Press interested in attending should contact the press office.
Media Contact: Mallary Gelb
Telephone: 020 303 31682
Out of hours: 07071243243
Notes to editors
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
About Age UK: Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.
We provide free information, advice and support to over five million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).