Nearly half a million people aged 85+ will need complex and long-term healthcare over next 20 years
A new study published in the Lancet Public Health Journal has forecasted the extent of the UK’s elderly healthcare needs over the next two decades.
The model, created by experts at Newcastle University and the London School of Economics & Political Science, estimates that the number of people aged 85 and over needing 24-hour care will double between 2015 and 2035 to around 446,000.
It highlighted that the 85+ age group is the fastest ageing demographic in the UK, with their numbers projected to double to 1.5 million in the next 20 years, many of whom are expected to develop long-term health conditions that require more complex and round-the-clock specialist care.
Additionally, in the same 20-year period there is estimated to be a 50% rise in the number of people aged over 65, bringing their total to 14.5 million, with more than 1 million people in this age group expected to require similar 24-hour care by 2035, up from 783,000 in 2015.
However, the number of older people living independently is similarly predicted to increase by 60% to 8.9 million by 2035.
The model also predicts that as many as 500,000 extra people will need more complex forms of care, due to major health conditions like dementia, obesity and diabetes, and warns that unpaid care from adult children and spouses will not be able to keep up with the unprecedented levels of demand.
“The challenge is considerable,” said Professor Carol Jagger from Newcastle University, who led the study. “Older spouse carers are increasingly likely to be living with disabilities themselves, resulting in mutual care relationships that are not yet well recognised by existing care policy and practices.
“On top of that, extending the retirement age of the UK population is likely to further reduce the informal and unpaid carer pool, who have traditionally provided for older family members. These constraints will exacerbate pressures on already stretched social care budgets.”
Think-tank Global Future has warned in a recent report that further restrictions on freedom of movement resulting from Brexit could affect as many as 115,000 social care jobs.