This week the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report revealing that the number of older people needing informal care will outstrip the number of family members able to provide it as early as 2017. Worrying news for a social care system already creaking under the strain of not enough funding and too many people in need of care.
The Office for National Statistics projects that the number of people in England aged 85 or over will increase from 1.24 million in 2013 to 2.3 million by 2030. This age group is also the most likely to have some form of disability. A glance at just some of the announcements made in the last two weeks alone tells us that demographic change is creeping back onto the public agenda. The question on everyone's lips: Are we prepared? The answer: No.
Reading and hearing reports in the media each day, it is impossible to deny that there is increased awareness of the issue of loneliness and isolation in older people in the UK. Since I founded the charity 49 years ago, Contact the Elderly has been actively involved in combating loneliness, providing over a million face-to-face friendship links via our monthly tea parties
Imagine a life where a visit from the postman might be the only human contact you have all week. For those of us who work in a busy office this is hard to imagine, but for many older people, it's a grim reality. Loneliness is a devastating problem in the UK and has a crippling effect on older people who endure it, day in and day out.
Today there are 800 million people aged 60 and over, all with an increased life expectancy, so, it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that soon there will be more older people on the planet than any other age group. Hence why understanding and improving the mental health of this generation is of significant importance to all of us.
The moral imperative to root out ageism in the NHS now has legal backing, following the recent expansion of the age-related provisions of the 2010 Equality Act to include services. All public sector organisations must eliminate unequal treatment on the grounds of age. But where do we start in cancer care?
This focus on the very young is perhaps a natural reflex, yet we mustn't allow it to blind us to the needs of older people. As a doctor myself, and currently president of an international medical humanitarian organisation operating in emergencies around the world, I want to challenge our sense that we should always focus first on the needs of the very young in emergencies.
Today is Older People's Day - a welcome celebration of the contribution that older people make to society. There will be much written, and still more done, to underline the importance of building bonds and relationships between people of all ages. Less, however, might be said about the issue of 'active ageing', what it means to older people and how we might achieve it.