Suffolk: County ready to face challenges of ageing population
14:57 20 February 2013
THE number of people in Suffolk aged over 65 will increase by 75,000 in just over 15 years, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.
Ageing population in Suffolk:
* First figure is size of population over 65 in 2012. Second figure is size of population over 65 in 2030.
Babergh: 20,200 / 30,100
Forest Heath: 10,300 / 15,800
Ipswich: 20,300 / 27,70
Suffolk Coastal: 30,900 / 48,100
St Edmundsbury: 21,900 / 32,200
Mid Suffolk: 20,900 / 34,700
Waveney: 29,200 / 40,800
County leaders have warned the projection - with the rate of increase significantly above the national average - means the delivery of health and social care must change to avoid financial ruin.
They have joined charity chiefs in stressing the importance of healthier, more connected communities while suggesting the planning of housing and neighbourhoods could change.
Health bosses have also said they recognise the challenge of treating a population suffering from an additional 11,000 cases of diabetes and 10,000 cases of dementia and have already developed strategies focused on age-related health conditions.
According to figures released by Suffolk County Council, the number of people in Suffolk aged 65 and over will rise from 153,800 in 2012 to 229,600 in 2030 – accounting for 28% of the county’s population, against a national average of 24%.
The number of people aged 90 and over will more than double, going from 8,000 to 18,500.
The biggest population rise will be seen in Suffolk Coastal, which will see 17,200 additional people over the age of 65. They are followed by Mid Suffolk, Waveney and St Edmundsbury.
Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health and social care, Colin Noble, said the authority is planning for an ageing population.
He added: “We are trying to make sure that when we plan our services and what our communities look like we address the fact that an awful lots of us will be an awful lot older than we are today.”
“We have to think about people who are going to need a different offer of housing. How are we going to make that attractive so it releases family homes? We have to think about transport infrastructure and we have to think about our hospitals and GP services.”
Mr Noble said more money was being spent on helping people live healthier lives than purchasing care.
He added: “There’s no doubt if we carry on delivering services as we deliver them today we will run out of money. What we have to do is look at how we are going to change our communities and make them ready for an ageing population and how we’re going to help people to live healthier, more connected lives.”
But Mr Noble said there would need to be expenditure on homes and developments so older people can maintain their independence in their property or move into extra care homes.
Among the ideas currently being discussed by the county council are “lifetime homes” that can be adapted for use in old age and “walkable neighbourhoods”. Some council reports have recommended providing more benches and also more “key features” to act as landmarks for people with dementia.
Samantha Nicklin, campaigns manager for Age UK, said there are “real” but surmountable challenges ahead.
She added: “It is about understanding what the needs of older people are and then making sure we are building the right infrastructure to deliver that. Looking at housing, when we build new homes we make sure that we make it usable for any age, that they are wheelchair accessible and simple enough to be adapted so as people get older they can stay in their home for as long as appropriate.”
Ms Nicklin, who said older people should be consulted said as well as grab rails and ramps more drop kerbs in town planning would help the very young as well as the old.
The campaign manager, who said older people need to be involved in any planning, also claimed that the way people who are 65 plus are viewed in society will change.
She added: “I think previously older people have been viewed as a drain on resources and I think active older people who are volunteers and acting in the community in retirement are will continue to show the values that older people can bring.”