Just one in three to reach retirement in good health warns think tank. Half a million people aged 100 or over by 2066.

22nd July 2013

Just under a third of us will reach 65 in good health, the UK branch of the International Longevity Centre –UK, (ILC-UK) warned at its conference today.

Among other uncomfortable facts issued by the Centre is that gains in life expectancy have outstripped gains in healthy life expectancy, meaning that potentially more than two thirds of people in the UK could find themselves living their retirement years in ill-health.

The ILC has also issued a fact book called ‘Ageing, longevity and demographic change’ which it has produced in association with its sponsor, pension firm Legal & General.  This draws on government sources and other academic research from the last few years. We list a few of the salient ones below.

Fact pack statistics and observations

In 2010, there were 12,640 centenarians but 160,000 by 2014 and half a million by 2066.

At 12.2 million, the number of pensioners in the UK is equivalent to the combined populations of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. ***

Around one-third, of babies born in 2012 in the United Kingdom are expected to survive to celebrate their 100th birthday. ***

Latest life expectancy statistics for England & Wales, show that a man aged 65 will live for 18.2 years and a woman aged 65, for 20.8 years***

Of the top four diseases in the UK, dementia, cancer, stroke and heart disease – dementia contributes to over 50% of the care costs, but receives only 6% of the funding.****

The number of people of State Pensions Age in the UK is projected to increase by 28% to 15.6 million by 2035. This reflects the higher number of people born immediately after the Second World War and then subsequently those born in the 1960s baby boom.

In 2011 there were 8.5 working age people to one person aged over 65. However, the report adds it is wrong to assume that all those over 65 are ‘dependent’.

The level of self-employment in the 50 plus range is about one in five considerably higher than levels across all ages. The report adds: “Years of experience and expertise means that this group of start-up entrepreneurs is more likely to succeed, with over 70% lasting more than 5 years, compared with 28% of young entrepreneurs.

And finally here a few of the academic’s quotes today almost all of which are urging Government action to begin to deal with the issue.

Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School said: “The good news is that we are all living longer than previous generations. However, if policymakers fail to respond to the longevity challenge, taxes could increase, public spending including pensions could be squeezed and pressures for immigration could increase. Longevity needs to be managed if we are to protect living standards of future generations. While a bigger population leads to greater GDP, it does not necessarily translate into higher living standards. Part of the solution lies in re-calibrating our approach to health by recognising the importance of prevention and how health and social care are delivered.”

Baroness Sally Greengross chief executive of the ILC-UK added: “Future generations of older and younger people will not thank policymakers for failing to take the longevity challenges seriously. If we are to manage the costs and maximise the opportunities of an ageing society, the time to act is now. We must plan for tomorrow, today.”

Professor Michael Murphy of the London School of Economic said: “Healthy ageing” is moving up the policy agenda but much remains to be done. Looking ahead, the balance of care needs will shift from acute to social care services and the focus of attention will shift from older people in general to the particular needs of the “oldest old.”

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