Can you imagine a Western world where older adults are given the respect and dignity they deserve? How would this change our communities, our social care, funding and the quality of life as we age?
Older adults are the most underserved and isolated group in our society. With a growing and ageing population, we must do more to change this.
OUR ELDERLY POPULATION
There is projected to be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over – a population roughly equivalent to the size of London by 2030.
One in five people in the UK (21.8%) will be aged 65 or over, 6.8% will be aged 75+ and 3.2% will be aged 85+.
With more people living well into their 90s, older people should rightly have the expectation that their quality of life should not have to decrease so dramatically. As we age, lots of areas of our lives change, however the quality of life and access to services we have should not.
OUR CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Ageing isn't just a biological process, it's also very much a cultural one. We see different cultures have different attitudes and practices around ageing and death, and these cultural perspectives can have a huge effect on our experience of getting older.
While many cultures celebrate the ageing process and venerate their elders, in Western cultures we tend to idolise youth and often discard elderly who are relegated to hospitals and nursing homes. It's fair to say, ageing has almost become a shameful experience and physical signs of human ageing tend to be regarded with distaste.
OUR HEALTHCARE PERSPECTIVE Our healthcare system is unprepared for the complexity of caring for a diverse population of older adults, a problem that has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NHS say “advances in health care have helped people in England to live longer than ever before. But if we don’t improve the way we provide support to older people then the NHS will struggle to meet the increasing demand for resources as well as changing patient needs.” In the UK, adult social care funding has been under pressure for several years. There are high levels of unmet care needs. Age UK has estimated that 1.5 million older people in England are not getting the care they need.
Ageing cannot be prevented, but we can evaluate how we support our loved ones as they age.
We can give older adults a voice: to share their vast experiences, to connect on a human level and hear what they need and want from care and life.
Increase social care funding: increasing funding for people to be able to live in their own home and comfort for longer, increases independence and also reduces burden and costs on the NHS.
Provide supporting technology: digitalising healthcare as much as possible relieves pressures seen within health and social care and increases quality of life. Very soon the older generation will be the millennium generation, born with iPads by our side with the idea of technology for care not just a new addition to life, but a basic expectation.
We all know that the elderly population is growing and ageing like never before. The demand for quality care is rightly increasing too, but we are not able to provide this expectation yet and need to act fast as a nation.
Find out more about the work we do to support older adults, book a demo.