People needing care set to double in 20 years

People needing care set to double in 20 years

The number of adults aged 85 years and older needing constant care is set to almost double to 446,000 in England over the next 20 years, according to a new study.

The Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing has published a report, which showed the total number of people over the age of 85 will double to 446,000, while the over-65s requiring 24-hour care will rise by more than a third, to one million in 2035.

The study said informal carers provide approximately £57bn worth of care in the UK and warned this was not a solution for the impending larger numbers of people requiring constant care in the future.

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Professor Carol Jagger, who led the study, said: "The challenge is considerable. 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."

However, the study also estimated the number of people over the age of 65, who are independent and do not need care, will rise by 60 per cent to 8.9 million by 2035, from 5.5 million in 2015, with the upturn in independence primarily seen in men.

The government is currently consulting on ways to address the looming care funding crisis.

Several solutions are said to be on the table, including the ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

Newcastle University and the London School of Economics have developed a Population Ageing and Care Simulation (PACSim) model that accounts for multiple risk factors for dependence and disability such as the level of education, health behaviours and major diseases.

The model uses data from three nationally representative studies to predict future trends in social care needs for the population aged 65 years and older in England between 2015 and 2035, according to varying levels of dependency.

Estimates showed the number of people aged over 65 will increase by almost half from 9.7 million in 2015 to 14.5 million in 2035.

The life expectancy of men aged 65 is expected to rise by 3.5 years to 22.2 years, while the average life expectancy for women of the same age it set to increase by 3 years.

The study shows the average number of years which men, aged 65, spend living independently is expected to increase by more than four years whilst time spent living with substantial care needs is likely to decline.

In contrast, for women the average life expectancy at 65 will increase by three years and the average number of years of independence is expected to rise by less than a year.

Women will spend almost half of their remaining life with low dependency needs, such as help with activities like washing and shopping, alongside a small increase in years requiring intensive 24-hour care.