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Briefing: Health and Care of Older People in England 2017

Welcome to this year’s Health and Care of Older People in England briefing from Age UK.

The report aims to shine a light on how the system of health and care is working for older people in this country at the moment using the best, most authoritative data available, most of it from official sources.

In some places Age UK has carried out additional analysis of this data to come up with new results and conclusions; wherever this is so it is clearly indicated in the text.

Being able to know that we will receive health and care if and when we should need it matters to all of us, at any age, but it is all the more salient as we get older. Many people in their sixties and seventies enjoy good health and do not need any additional support with daily living, but as we move into our ninth decade and beyond this becomes less common and more of us will need help.

By the time we reach our early eighties only one in seven of us will be free of any diagnosed long term health conditions and, once we reach the age of eighty five, eighty per cent of us will be living with at least two. The same pattern can be observed when it comes to care needs: by our late eighties, more than one in three of us have difficulties undertaking five or more tasks of daily living unaided.

When you consider that the numbers of older people aged eighty five and over have increased by a third over the last decade you can see why experts cite a growing older population as one of the most significant factors behind the rising demand for health and care services in this country.

These demographic changes inevitably mean that we need more health and care services than before but the extent to which this is actually happening, with the right kind of health and care services being made available in the right places, is one of the most crucial issues covered by this report.

Looking further ahead, the numbers of older people aged eighty five and beyond are projected to grow exponentially in the next twenty years, doubling by 2036, so an important question that arises is the extent to which we are on the right path towards meeting these increasing needs and demands in future. This vital question for our society and for the generations of older people to come is addressed at the end of this report.

This briefing is based on numerous facts and figures and contains many graphs and charts. But let’s never forget that behind them are millions of ‘real’ older people. That is why, ultimately, we have compiled this report – to aid our understanding of what is working well in terms of health and care and what needs to change to enable all of us to live as well as we possibly can as we age.