Britain is fast approaching a time when city planners will need to route public transport past doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, rather than simply schools or workplaces, a report on the ageing of society claims. Houses will have to be built with the needs of the elderly in mind, as more and more people live into old age. And a generation nearing retirement will be faced with the dilemma of how to look after their elderly relatives while still caring for their children and possibly grandchildren. Retirement, however, will be postponed as the age for receiving national pensions is increased to contain the costs of ageing and to pay for those who are retired.

There are two trends worrying the number-crunchers at the Office of National Statistics: the retirement of the baby boomers, and the increasing longevity of people. Last year there were 9.5 million Britons over 65; by 2032 that figure could rise to 16.1 million, or 23 per cent of the population. Similarly, there were 1.1 million people over 85 last year, but a projected 3.1 million by 2032.

The demand for long-term care will increase, but families will provide less of it because of family breakdown, said statistician Karen Dunnell: “The rising numbers of older single people and the break-up of families through divorce are likely to reduce the provision of informal caring.” Increasing the retirement age was the key to supporting the millions of extra older people who will need assistance, she said.

While the report talks about longevity resulting from medical advances and improved social conditions, it does not, apparently, say anything about the other cause of the ageing of society: the sudden drop in birth rates following the introduction of the pill. ~ Times Online, Dec 10

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet