The aging population is having a considerable effect on public services. According to the government, the majority of public spending is spent on older people.
There are over 10.5 million older people in the UK. It’s estimated that there will be 5½ million more elderly people in 20 years’ time and the figure will almost double by 2050.
The fact of the matter is that we are living longer. Nowadays we have better healthcare, we have much more knowledge when it comes to healthy eating, exercise and habits like alcohol and smoking; and we take better care of ourselves.
However, this comes at a price. The number of older people needing care is growing at an alarming rate. There are three million people over the age of 80-years-old in the UK alone.
What does all this mean though?
- Rise in State Pension age
The age at which British people receive the State Pension has recently changed. For years it was 65 for men and 60 for women but the pension age will rise to 66 for men and women by 2020. What’s more, it will start to increase again in 2026 to 67. The women’s state pension age will move to 65 by 2018 and then hike to 66 two years’ later.
- Public spending
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, 65% of benefit expenditure goes to people over working age. This is equivalent to one seventh of public spending and an additional spending of £10 billion a year for every additional one million people over working age.
However, spending cuts mean that there will be less money for things like hospital beds and help towards care home fees.
- Impact on the NHS
The Department of Health estimates that the average cost of providing hospital and community health services for a person aged over 85 years is three times greater than a person aged 65-74 years. The supply of state services has failed to keep up with the demand for care and support. Spending on the NHS has risen by £25 billion since 2004 but spending on social care has only risen by 0.1% per year in real terms.
Resources cannot be stretched even further. The result is that costs are rising and the eligibility criterion is getting tighter.
By 2050, it is predicted that there will be three times more people of working age looking after two billion ageing family members. Caring for a family member can have a big impact on the economy with adults juggling work with care. The cost to individuals as well as the economy is huge as a 2011 survey revealed that 31% of working age carers gave up work or reduced their hours to care for a loved one.
So what does the future hold? Authorities have given their expectations as to what consequences our aging population will have but only time will tell.
What matters is that we have a solid framework to plan a fruitful future that cares for our elderly loved ones. Failures in social care will only lead to stifled economic productivity and we can turn the challenges it brings into a driver for economic growth.
How do we go about doing it? Perhaps we look to other countries to see how they look after their elderly; alternatively, a new system should be put in place that offers more financial support. Mr Dilnot, Head of an independent commission into social care, has previously recommended a cap on how much people should pay for their own care of £25,000-£50,000.
Only one thing matters- older people should always be viewed as a blessing, not a burden!
This article is provided by Cheselden, the UK’s leading independent authority on NHS Continuing Healthcare.