We’re Living Longer And Healthier Lives – Let’s Celebrate
by Dr. Ros Altmann
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- Increased life expectancy is great news – offering challenges and opportunities
- Encouraging later life working can improve life for people living longer
- But we must also plan for more people needing care services too
Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, comments:
“The latest figures showing that more of us are staying healthy into later life these days are really something to celebrate. Medical advances have brought such success in helping people live longer. That does also mean re-evaluating our lives too.
“Working longer, keeping active – and saving more if you can – are vital ingredients of managing the ageing population. We need to help older people look after themselves where possible and help younger people appreciate the value of elders.
“Millions of older people who are still physically fit and healthy may not be making the most of all the skills they’ve acquired throughout their lives. By encouraging the opportunities of easing into retirement, rather than suddenly stopping work altogether at an arbitrary age, we can help ensure less reliance on the state and ultimately make later life years more fulfilling. This would be a win-win for the economy and society – it will help older people have higher incomes and create more jobs for the young. If we carry on as we are, then people will stop working, have low pension incomes and reduced spending power, which will stifle growth. It does not need to be like this and the sooner we embrace later life working, the better.
Preparing for care
“The other huge challenge of longer lives is helping people prepare for care needs, either for themselves or their loved ones. Government has taken far too long to address the care crisis.
“Although the Government may be warming to the idea of proceeding with a cap on the amount individuals will need to pay for their care costs, we still need proper clarification on how this will funded and delivered. Funding is the crucial missing piece of the care puzzle and as life expectancy continues to rise; the need for care funding will also increase.
“While we can all expect to live in good health for longer than before, there will still be many more needing care at some stage. Preparing for this, and how to pay for it, are huge policy challenges to come.”