The Cost of an Ageing Population

Developments in technology and healthcare have led to numerous improvements in our lives. Not only are certain tasks easier to complete but our entire lifestyle has been altered by the way in which societies approach advancements in different fields.

Perhaps the biggest change to have been noted as a result of continual progression is that of an ageing population. Statistics released over the last few years have painted a clear picture concerning the age of our inhabitants, with the number of centenarians (those aged over 100 years) increasing to almost 13,000 in 2010 as compared to just over 1,000 in 40 years prior to this.

In the past 30 years, the number of citizens aged over 100 has increased fivefold; jumping from 2,500 to 12,640. The number of supercentenarians (those aged over 110 years) has also increased fivefold between 1980 and 2010 although their numbers are considerable smaller – with just 2 individuals reaching this age bracket in 1980 and 10 people reaching it in 2010.

ageing population

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neovain/718863996/

Improved medical treatment has naturally been seen as the main cause of this trend, with drastic developments making the level of healthcare which is provided far higher than ever before. This has naturally led to increased sustainability of life, with life expectancies at higher levels than ever before. One of the markers of a developed nation, the fact that people are living longer can only be seen as a good thing – but that it isn’t to say it doesn’t come without its fair share of costs.

Ultimately, with such a large proportion of people reaching an older age, governments are forced to subsidise a greater number of costs, although specific requirements should be in place for people to get them.
NHS treatment will undoubtedly need further funding to support the larger number of elderly, especially if in the aim of helping the community these costs will figure the additional expenses for visiting an infirm patient at home.

Even smaller considerations such as free access to public transport, reduced rates at certain attractions, benefit schemes (such as those for winter fuel payments) and subsidised costs (such as those for council tax) will need to be reviewed in the future. Failure to do so could result in future generations being plagued by limited investment as the money pot contains insufficient funds to support those on a restricted income.

Alongside the financial considerations which need to be made, it is likely that public spaces will slowly begin to adapt in order to cater to their older clientele. Whether it’s the installation of a stairlift within train stations and public buildings or greater access to stairlift rentals for care homes and domestic buildings, it is vital that nation’s begin to consider how they can adapt the environment to suit all individuals – including those with mobility issues.

According to data, the population group aged 90 years and above is the fastest growing segment in the UK – meaning that within a few years there could be even more centenarians to care for.

This article has been written by Tracy Smith, a London nurse.

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