At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a problem. One of the great achievements of the 20th century is the dramatic rise in life expectancy. However, this great leap forward brings with it two main challenges:

1. The Economic Problem

The issue here in the UK is an economic one, as the impact of an ageing population brings huge pressure on UK Government finances. How will we be able to afford to look after this rapidly growing ageing population?

2. The Physical Problem

In the past it was reasonable to equate life expectancy increases with better health. However the quality of this later life must also be addressed, with the emphasis on independence, mobility and general well-being from a physical point of view. 

Both of these problems can be addressed by keeping people fit and active, which is at the heart of all our work here at Action For Elders.

The facts speak for themselves. Google’s own data suggests that between 1960 and 2010 life expectancy has risen from 72 years to 82 years. Between 2010 and 2030 this is expected to rise more steeply.

 

The Government’s own Office For Science published a paper entitled:

Trends In Life Expectancy and Healthy Life Expectancy

Here are their key findings:

Increases in heath expectancies in the UK are not keeping pace with gains in life expectancy, particularly at older ages.

The Future of an Ageing Population

The steady rise of life expectancy in the UK does of course lead to a rising number of older people. Government research and health professionals both come to the same conclusion. There is an urgent need to capture quality as well as quantity of remaining years lived.

In fact, one report goes so far as to say, “Health expectancies, such as disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) and healthy life expectancy (HLE), are the two main population health indicators in the UK.”