Radical action is needed to help the over 50s who are less well-off as they face greater challenges that will result in them dying younger, becoming sicker earlier and falling out of work due to ill-health.
Following publication of its report The State of Ageing in 2019, the Centre for Ageing Better is calling for a rethink from government, businesses and charities so the next generation of older people can experience a good quality of life as they age.
The research found that while people aged 65 can expect to live just half of the remainder of their life without disability, those in less affluent parts of the country will die earlier and be sicker for longer.
It said ill health is a major cause of people leaving work prematurely and can affect quality of life and access to services like healthcare.
The report found that nearly a quarter of those aged 45-64 are carers but said this was likely to be an underestimate. Citing NHS figures, 5% of this group provide more than 35 hours of care a week and 4% more than 50 hours a week.
‘This has a huge knock-on effect on these people’s working lives, and for their financial security and wellbeing more generally,’ the 42-page report said. ‘Carers UK has reported that more than 8 in 10 unpaid carers feel lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring responsibilities, and that this can have a negative impact on mental and physical wellbeing.’
The number of people aged 65 and over in the UK is set to grow by more than 40% in two decades, reaching over 17 million by 2036.
The charitable foundation said government must require all new homes to be accessible and adaptable and commit to improving existing housing. It wants employers to do more to support people to keep working, especially those managing health problems or caring responsibilities.
Dr Anna Dixon, Centre for Ageing Better chief executive, said: ‘We must act now to add life to our years; to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of a longer life. Without radical action today to help people age well, we are storing up problems for the future and leaving millions at risk of poverty and poor health in later life.’