Last year there were 584,020 people aged 90 and over – an increase of 50 percent since 2002. The average life expectancy of people in the UK last year saw its biggest increase in four years. But the statistics prompted warnings of the difficulties and cost of caring for the UK’s growing older population with the social care crisis showing no signs of abating.
Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of not-for-profit elderly housing provider Anchor Hanover, said: “The fact that we are living longer is one of the most significant developments in human existence, and should be celebrated.
“However deeply ingrained institutional ageism, and years of inaction to reform funding for social care systems that millions rely on, has left tens of thousands of older people suffering unnecessarily.
“To secure a positive future that people can look forward to, we demand government publish its “clear plan” to reform social care as an immediate priority.”
The latest national life tables released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics revealed the changes in the life expectancy of people living across the UK.
The rise in the number of over 90s has been driven by a rise in the number of men living into their 90s. However there are still more than twice as many women (400,000) aged 90-plus than men (183,000).
According to the latest figures, average life expectancy for a man is now 79.3, and the average for women is 82.9.
But the number of people living to celebrate their 100th birthday is falling.
At its peak in 2016, there were 14,060 people with a telegram from the Queen. Now it is 13,170. This is because of the low birth rate during the First World War and more deaths in this age group over the past two years.
There are now 820 people aged 105 and over, an increase of 148 percent since 2002 when there were 330.
Dr Aideen Young, of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Our longer lives are an incredible gift and open up huge opportunities.
“But we mustn’t be complacent. Life expectancy remains lower in less well-off parts of the country, and many people in their 50s and 60s now, particularly those who are less well-off, simply won’t reach these older ages.”
COMMENT BY DAVID SINCLAIR
Life expectancy is at the highest level it has ever been and life expectancy at birth has increased by four weeks for men and women.
But as a country we need to find a way to care for this growing population of old and very old people.
Social care is in crisis and too many older people are not getting the help they need.
Local authorities are struggling to keep up with the demand from a growing number of older people.
ONS statistics reveal that some of those poorest amongst us are spending longer in ill health.
A growing older population ought to be good news – but to realise that the Government must invest more.
Our social care system is failing older people whilst younger people are saving too little for old age.
David Sinclair is Director of the International Longevity Centre UK
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