NEWS:

Employers ‘letting down’ over 50s on risks of alcohol in later life – new report

  • Recent retirees are more likely to drink every day
  • Almost one third of older drinkers in the professional occupational class drink 5-7 days a week
  • A quarter of the professional occupational class aged 60-69 drink heavily – more than under 30s
  • Those retiring before 60 and after 75 are more likely to be high-risk drinkers

Older adults in employment and facing retirement are being let down by employers when it comes to problem drinking, a report released today states.

The report written by ILC-UK and commissioned by Drink Wise, Age Well, urges employers and government to take more action to help over 50s in employment or facing retirement to avoid serious alcohol problems in later life.

It highlights retirement as a ‘danger point’ for problem drinking, with recent retirees over 50 being more likely to drink every day. Additionally, those retiring before 60 are more likely to become a high-risk drinker, as are those working beyond the age of 75.

It concludes that there is currently a ‘blind spot’ in support from employers and the state in preparing for retirement which falls short of emotional, health and social changes. For millions of people facing later retirement in the future, the report represents a clarion call.

For those over 50s still employed stress, boredom, lack of control over work and retirement worries all contribute to drinking more. Earlier this year the Drink Wise, Age Well survey revealed that as many as 1 in 4 older adults would not ask for help with an alcohol problem if they needed it.  For those who drank more than they used to, 40% cited retirement as a reason for doing so.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly 30% of over 50s in the ‘professional’ occupational classes drink 5-7 days a week, the highest of any occupational class
  • Almost a quarter of older groups in the highest professions drink more than their younger counterparts
  • Alcohol problems can cost UK employers money in terms of workplace absence and lost productivity – around 7.3 billion a year

Over 50s who have been out of work and recovered from an alcohol problem still face further barriers in getting back into work. Only 16% of employers said they would consider employing someone with a previous alcohol problem, leaving some of the UK’s most experienced workers who want to work unable to realise their potential.

The authors of the report call for employers to introduce measures to assist employees over 50 who might be struggling with an alcohol problem, such as counselling and effective workplace policies that treat alcohol issues like any other health issue.

For those into retirement, the report calls for GPs to factor in the effects of retirement when giving advice on reducing risk from alcohol. The report also calls for greater engagement from employers to staff pre and post-retirement. This includes social clubs and guidance on how to avoid alcohol becoming a problem once working life is over.

Julie Breslin, head of programme for Drink Wise, Age Well said:

“People aged over 50 who are out of work, may struggle more than any other age group to get employment. Add this to someone over 50 who is in recovery from problem drinking, and there is a compounded stigma. However, people in recovery will often have so much more to offer a workplace; experience, loyalty and commitment, and by making employment opportunities more accessible everyone benefits.

Additionally, people who are approaching retirement age will have given much of their life to the workplace and supporting their employer’s success. It is only right that there is an investment from the workplace into their well-being particularly as they approach retirement. There should be a holistic approach to retirement which includes health and well-being. Providing people with knowledge and awareness, and coping strategies to manage the transition hopefully means people won’t turn to increased alcohol use if they are struggling”

David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service said:

“Retirement is like a cliff edge and often older people go from having a busy schedule and colleagues to interact with, to days where they might not see anyone or even have a conversation on the phone. It doesn’t take long for loneliness to set in and drinking a little more than they should each day can quickly become the norm. It’s vital that people facing retirement or those recently retired, remain mentally and physically active and engaged in their community and we would urge employers to ensure they have the necessary support and guidance in place to help employees with what can be a very steep transition.”

Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre – UK said:

“As our population ages, the importance of older employees continues to grow.

A healthy and happy older workforce is vital, and having a better relationship with alcohol can help towards this. This report shows that many older adults are reaching retirement drinking potentially harmful amounts, and there is a need for increased support from employers in treating alcohol problems as they would other health problems.

Employers, health professionals and family members should be having these potentially difficult conversations sooner rather than later, to prevent serious alcohol related harm developing later in life”.

The report is available to download here.

Notes to Editors:

  • The report was compiled from existing health and social-related data and took evidence from working and retired over 50s, and employers at a series of enquiries at the House of Lords.
  • The AUDIT Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test identifies three categories of drinker:

o LOWER RISK: This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 0-7 Or: Men who regularly drink 3-4 units per day. Women who regularly drink 2-3 units per day. This group is defined as ‘lower risk’ rather than ‘no risk, as evidence is accumulating that no level of alcohol use is without risk entirely. This is particularly true for older adults.

o INCREASING RISK DRINKERS This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 8-15 or Men who regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day, but less than the higher risk levels. Women who regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day, but less than the higher risk levels.

o HIGHER RISK DRINKERS This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 16+ or Men who regularly drink more than 8 units a day or more than 50 units of alcohol per week. (5 bottles of wine or 20 pints). Women who regularly drink more than 6 units a day or more than 35 units of alcohol per week. (14 pints lager or 3 ½ bottles of wine)

  • High Risk drinkers are defined in this research as respondents in Understanding Society who drink more than five times a week and who drink more than eight units in a typical day.
  • Recent retirees are defined as respondents in Understand Society who retired between waves four and five.
  • Drink Wise, Age Well will be delivered over a seven year period by a consortium led overall by Addaction and in Northern Ireland by Addiction Northern Ireland, and including Royal Voluntary Service, International Longevity Centre UK and Drug and Alcohol Charities Wales. The programme will be evaluated by an academic team led by the University of Bedfordshire’s Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART

Each partner will take the lead in a demonstration area:

  • Western Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland: Addiction Northern Ireland (contact Director Thelma Abernethy or Locality Manager Joanne Smith )
  • Cwm Taf Wales: Drug Aid (Director, Caroline Phipps or Locality Manager Richard Broadway)
  • Devon County, England:  Addaction (Contact Clare Pawley)
  • Sheffield City, England : Royal Voluntary Service- (Contact Emma Wells)
  • Glasgow City, Scotland: Addaction (Contact Graeme Callander)
  • Research and Evaluation: Sarah Wadd, SMART who will lead a UK wide academic team
  • Policy- Sally-Marie Bamford, ILC-UK
  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
     
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Every year it funds 13,000 small local projects tackling big social problems like poor mental health and homelessness. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.


The Rt Hon. Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the NHS Confederation and former Secretary of State for Health and former Chair of the Health Select Committee, and Dwayne Johnson, Director of Adult Social Care, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council have agreed to join our fantastic list of speakers at the Future of Ageing conference.

Dr Margaret McCartney, GP, author and regular contributor on Radio 4’s Inside Health, will also present at the conference. Dr Islene Araujo de Carvalho of the Department of Ageing and Life Course at the World Health Organisation will also focus on health and care issues, taking a more global perspective.

Conference attendees will also hear from:

  • John Cridland CBE, Head of the Independent State Pension Age Review
  • John Pullinger CB, National Statistician, UK Statistics Authority
  • Professor Sarah Harper, Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing
  • Linda Woodall, Director of Life Insurance and Financial Advice, and sponsor of the Ageing Population project, Financial Conduct Authority
  • Jonathan Stevens, Senior Vice President, Thought Leadership, AARP
  • David Sinclair, Director, International Longevity Centre - UK
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Carey of Clifton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1991-2001

Join as at the Future of Ageing Conference on Wednesday, 9th November. Our Earlybird prices must end on 31st August, so sign up now to take advantage of this special discounted rate.

 

The Centre for Ageing Better has commissioned International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), along with Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing to conduct a review into inequalities in how people experience later life. The findings will help Ageing Better to ensure its work supports those who are most at risk of missing out on a good later life.

Inequalities in life expectancy, health, psychosocial wellbeing, social connections, financial stability and living environment all vary between different groups and in general increase for the most vulnerable in society.

Ageing Better is dedicated to ensuring that its work has both broad impact but also focusses on those most at risk of missing out on a good later life. The ILC-UK and Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing will therefore scope the evidence on the scale, nature and influences of inequalities in later life. The vital piece of foundational research will help to underpin the design of Ageing Better’s work, enabling better insights into the areas where inequalities are greatest, and also an understanding of what is known about the most promising opportunities to intervene to narrow these disparities.

The causes of inequalities in later life are complex, inter-related, and challenging to eliminate. Current research into the scale, nature and influences of these inequalities is wide-ranging, but is of varied quality and quantity, with few areas studied to the same depth as health and income. ILC-UK will therefore provide a robust review of the available research and data and will draw conclusions about its quality and strength. The submission of the final review will be during February 2017.

ILC-UK and Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing were appointed after responding to the Invitation to Tender issued by Ageing Better in March.

Rachael Docking, Senior Evidence Manager, the Centre for Ageing Better said:

“All our work is rooted in evidence on what matters to people as they prepare for and experience later life. This major review will help us support those who are most at risk of missing out on a good later life. We would like to thank everyone who responded to the Invitation to Tender, and we look forward to working with Newcastle University and ILC-UK.”

Centre for Ageing Better’s Later Life in 2015 study highlighted that there is a wide variation in how people experience later life. Find out more about the different groups of people aged 50 and over here.

Research from Cass Business School and the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) has found growing inequalities in adult life expectancy.

Based on data from the Human Mortality Database, Professor of Statistics Les Mayhew and Dr David Smith measured the differences in age between the earliest 10% of adult deaths and the top 5% of survivors.

They found that while people in the UK are living longer than ever, the gap between the longest and shortest lifespans appears to be increasing. In particular, the life expectancy of those in the lowest and the highest socio-economic groups is diverging for the first time since the 1870s.

The full report, An investigation into inequalities in adult lifespan, is published today.

It finds:

  • In England and Wales, 5% of men that have attained the age of 30 are living on average to 96.0 years, 33.3 years longer than the lowest 10%.
  • This gap grew by 1.7 years between 1993, when it was at its narrowest, and 2009.
  • It is the first time since the 1870s that the gap in life expectancy is widening
  • Unhealthy lifestyles are the main causes of this widening gap.
  • For women, the longest surviving are reaching 98.2 years-old, 31 years longer than the lowest. The female gap reached its narrowest in 2005, but has since levelled out
  • Men in lower socio-economic groups are most likely to make damaging lifestyle choices.

Report author Professor Mayhew said:

“We looked at data from the 1870s onwards comparing England and Wales with France and Italy. It was clear that the first half of the 20th Century was characterised by a narrowing of the gap in life span as everyone benefited from improvements in clean drinking water, better housing, higher incomes and better health. Despite general rises in life expectancy after 1950, the life expectancy gap between men and women widened whilst inequalities in lifespan persisted rather than narrowing further.

“We found that since the 1990s lifespan inequalities in men have actually worsened in England and Wales. This is partly due to some men now living to exceptionally old ages and in many cases equalling women but at the other end of the distribution there has been a lack of progress.  The research blames the widening disparity on poor life style choices rather than ambient risks which were prevalent in the first half of the 20th Century. Key amongst these is smoking, drinking and poor diet – choices that are more likely to be made by the poorest in society.

A previous UK Government set a target in 2003 that by 2010 inequalities in health outcomes should be reduced by 10% as measured by life expectancy at birth. Not only was the target missed but in fact the opposite has happened. The research concludes the answer is not so much about redistributing healthcare expenditure but more about changing lifestyle habits. The research argues that more powerful policy tools aimed at behavioural change are needed to steer people towards healthier lifestyles."

Baroness Sally Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive added:

“This very timely report highlights how, despite huge increases in life expectancy, the gap between rich and poor is increasing for the first time since the 1870s. This trend is particularly worrying for society and policymakers must do more to begin to narrow this gap again. Preventing inequalities in ill health and disability must be a priority for policy action”.

Additional findings including comparisons to France and Italy:

- Male life expectancy in England and Wales at age 30 is currently higher than in either France or Italy, although the margin of difference post 1950 is usually about one year or less. Female life expectancy in France and Italy is currently higher than in England and Wales and has improved by greater amounts since 1950.

- In absolute terms the male age inequality gap is currently higher in France than in England or Wales which in turn is higher than in Italy. Currently it is 37.0 years in France as compared with 33.3 years in England and Wales and only 31.7 years in Italy. The fact that male age inequalities in Italy continued to narrow in period B by more than in period A is especially worthy of note.

- In absolute terms, the female age inequality gap is currently lowest in Italy, standing at 28.2 years as compared with 30.6 years in France and 31.0 years in England and Wales. The level of improvement in Italy and France since 1950 has been notably higher than in England and Wales. In Italy, for example, the gap closed by 5.8 years but in England and Wales by only 3.1 years.

- If gender differences in age related inequalities are compared, we find that the gap is currently bigger in France than in either Italy or England and Wales and that it also continues to widen. In England and Wales the gender gap in age inequalities has been the lowest of all three countries and remarkably similar throughout periods A and B. However, this similarity ceased after 1990 when the male gap started to re-widen.

The Drink Wise Age Well partnership of leading national alcohol and ageing charities have launched an Inquiry, led by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) into alcohol-related harm amongst the over 50s.

Each year we will hold an Inquiry on a key theme pertaining to alcohol and the over 50s and for 2016, we aim to explore and consider employment. We have selected this theme for 2016 based on some of the early findings from the Drink Wise Age Well survey; of those surveyed whose alcohol use has increased, 40% cite retirement and 20% loss of purpose for their increased consumption.

The 2016 Inquiry will focus on three key areas: alcohol and over 50s seeking employment; the second will examine alcohol and over 50s currently in employment; and the third will focus on alcohol and over 50s transitioning to, or currently in, retirement. We are inviting submissions of written evidence for one, two or all of the three key areas.

Guidelines on making a submission

  • If you would like to make a submission of written evidence to the Inquiry, please state clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation.
  • Please be concise – we recommend no more than 1500 words in length.
  • Include a brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence.
  • Include any factual information you have to offer from which the Inquiry might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses for their reactions.
  • Include any recommendations for action by the Government or others which you would like the Inquiry to consider.

Submissions of written evidence might consider:

1. To what extent does alcohol use either indirectly or directly impact employment prospects, job seeking activities and work performance in the over 50s? With around 1 million people aged 50-64 across the UK not currently in work but wanting to work, to what extent might alcohol-related harm be a cause, and/or symptom of prolonged unemployment? For those in work, what are the workplace consequences of alcohol-related harm?

2. What sort of interventions are required to encourage and support over 50s either seeking work, in work or in retirement with issues around alcohol? Evidence relating to successful interventions may focus on the role of service providers, the perspective of a service user, or a combination of these perspectives.

The final report is intended for a policy and public audience, so written submissions should be accessible but at the same time, informative, thought provoking and ideally challenging while offering solutions/recommendations. The written submissions will form a key part of the evidence base for the next annual State of the Nation report; our last State of the Nation report received wide media exposure and was covered by the BBC1 Breakfast Show, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph amongst other publications, and all submission will be acknowledged where referenced. To submit written evidence please email events@ilcuk.org.uk. Please note there is a final deadline of any submissions of Friday, 1st July 2016.

We are also holding three high level oral evidence sessions in the House of Lords:
• Monday 18th April – alcohol and over 50s seeking employment;
• Friday 6th May – alcohol and over 50s currently in employment;
• Monday 23rd May – alcohol and over 50s transitioning to, or currently in, retirement.

If you would like to attend any or all of these evidence sessions as an audience member please visit the ILC-UK website for further details:
http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/events/drink_wise_age_well_alcohol_inquiry

This is an independent Inquiry, with the ILC-UK providing the governance and secretariat while the Chair will drive the agenda and findings. Baroness Sally Greengross will chair the Inquiries evidence sessions, which are kindly supported by the Big Lottery Fund.


Please note:
Authors are requested to provide a very short biography of themselves/organisations of no more than four lines to sit alongside their submission. Due to time constraints, we will only be making minor amendments/proofing so all submissions need to be of a publishable standard, ILC-UK reserves the right not to publish if material is deemed inappropriate. All authors and their organisation will be credited in the final report and any associated publicity and promotional material linked to the response.


NEW STUDY: STIGMA AND SHAME STOPPING ‘HIDDEN’ OVER 50s DRINKERS SEEKING HELP

Biggest ever study of its kind reveals attitudes towards alcohol and ageing could be leaving over 50s at increased risk of harm from alcohol. 

A hidden population of over 50s at increasing risk from their drinking may well be hidden in plain sight according to the Drink Wise, Age Well report released today. Attitudes held and experienced by older drinkers may stop them for asking for help in reducing their alcohol use.

Respondents who drank more than they used to gave age-related reasons for doing so. Furthermore, over three-quarters (83%) of those surveyed who were at increasing risk from alcohol use had never been asked about their drinking by someone who might be able to help. Risks associated with alcohol include depression, poor sleep, memory problems, and trouble with relationships as well as more serious illnesses such as cancer or liver disease.

The biggest-ever study of its kind into drinking behaviours among the over 50s surveyed over 16,700 people from 10 areas across the UK. Categories of risk were defined using the international recognised AUDIT screening tool.

Preliminary findings are:

  • Over half of respondents aged over 65 believe that people with an alcohol problem have themselves to blame. Nearly a quarter think they should feel ashamed.  
  • The five most frequently reported reasons for those who drink more now than in the past are age-related. These include retirement, bereavement, loss of sense of purpose, fewer opportunities to socialise and finances.
  • Around 4 in 5 of those who are at increasing risk of harm from alcohol said that on no occasion had relatives, friends, doctors or other health workers been concerned about their drinking or suggested they cut down.
  • 1 in 4 said they would not tell anyone if they needed help.


Julie Breslin, Drink Wise, Age Well Programme Lead said:

“One positive from the Drink Wise, Age Well study is that 80% of those surveyed who drink, are drinking at lower risk levels. However, of those who are drinking at more risky levels the majority have never had anyone, including health professionals, talk to them about their alcohol use. Also a quarter of people would not know where to go for help nor would they ask if they needed it. Thanks to support from the Big Lottery Fund, Drink Wise, Age Well is working to tackle the stigma around alcohol use in the over 50s population and do this through raising awareness, training frontline staff to ‘ask the question’ and ensuring appropriate help is available to those when they do look for it.”

Baroness Sally Greengross from the International Longevity Centre - UK said:

“This report gives us an opportunity to start putting some wrongs to rights in relation to older adults and alcohol. We are all living longer lives; however, it is vital to ensure this is a life of quality and good health. If the number of people that are drinking at increasing risk levels continue this into later life there may be some serious impacts both on their own health and at a societal level. At a policy level we need to create a climate where sensible drinking is considered within the wider scope of healthy ageing and longevity.”

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive said:

“What this report gives rise to are some concerning characteristics in relation to higher risk drinkers. More often than not, they are not in a relationship and live alone, and have a longstanding illness or disability. 1 in 3 higher risk drinkers cite being down or depressed as a reason for drinking and 41% say they drink because they are lonely or bored. Tackling social isolation among older people is a key commitment of Royal Voluntary service and this report highlights that we need to be much more vigilant and aware of the potential for high risk drinking in a population that are more isolated. We are delighted to be partners of the Drink Wise, Age Well programme so we can tackle this together.”

Drink Wise, Age Well is supported by the Big Lottery Fund as part of Rethink Good Health, a £25 million UK-wide programme to inform policy and practice UK-wide in preventing alcohol misuse amongst older people, specifically those aged 50 and over. It works in five areas to help prevent harm caused by alcohol in the over 50s, promote alternatives to alcohol in communities, build skills in communities to help at risk over 50s and seeks to get the issue on the health agenda.

-ENDS-

Drink Wise Age Well media contact:
Steve Williams, Communications and Public Affairs:
Tel: 0141 221 8390 steven.williams@addaction.org.uk

Addaction press office: 020 7017 2747
Out of hours: 07818 587696


Notes to Editors:

  • The AUDIT Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test identifies three categories of drinker:

o LOWER RISK: This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 0-7 Or: Men who regularly drink 3-4 units per day. Women who regularly drink 2-3 units per day. This group is defined as ‘lower risk’ rather than ‘no risk, as evidence is accumulating that no level of alcohol use is without risk entirely. This is particularly true for older adults.
o INCREASING RISK DRINKERS This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 8-15 or Men who regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day, but less than the higher risk levels. Women who regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day, but less than the higher risk levels.
o HIGHER RISK DRINKERS This group is defined as: AUDIT score of 16+ or Men who regularly drink more than 8 units a day or more than 50 units of alcohol per week. (5 bottles of wine or 20 pints)
Women who regularly drink more than 6 units a day or more than 35 units of alcohol per week. (14 pints lager or 3 ½ bottles of wine)

  • Drink Wise, Age Well will be delivered over a seven year period by a consortium led overall by Addaction and in Northern Ireland by Addiction Northern Ireland, and including Royal Voluntary Service, International Longevity Centre UK and Drug and Alcohol Charities Wales. The programme will be evaluated by an academic team led by the University of Bedfordshire’s Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART).
     
  • Each partner will take the lead in a demonstration area:
    Western Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland: Addiction Northern Ireland (contact Director Thelma Abernethy or Locality Manager Joanne Smith )
    Cwm Taf Wales: Drug Aid (Director, Caroline Phipps or Locality Manager Richard Broadway )
    Devon County, England:  Addaction (Contact Clare Pawley)
    Sheffield City, England : Royal Voluntary Service- (Contact Emma Wells )
    Glasgow City, Scotland: Addaction (Contact Graeme Callander )
    Research and Evaluation: Sarah Wadd, SMART who will lead a UK wide academic team
    Policy- Sally Bamford. ILC-UK

    • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
    Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Every year it funds 13,000 small local projects tackling big social problems like poor mental health and homelessness.

    Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

Ends//

- New report points to link between ‘extra care housing’ and reduced loneliness levels
- Research also finds that those in ‘extra care housing’ feel a high degree of control over their lives

A new report from the ILC-UK has found that residential housing with flexible care provision (extra care) can have a major impact in promoting residents’ quality of life and reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The report, funded by Audley Retirement and Bupa, surveyed residents of retirement villages on quality of life and used a statistical technique to compare the results with a group living in the community. This striking research revealed that village living can promote greater independence and provide greater choice in planning for later life than would otherwise be available. The research shows that the communal environment has the potential to reduce social isolation, particularly for residents who move from more rural or remote homes.

The average person in a retirement village experiences half the amount of loneliness (12.17%) than those in the community (22.83%). Nearly two thirds of respondents living in retirement villages (64.2%) could be classified as not at all lonely, and over four out of five (81.7%) said they hardly ever or never felt isolated. Over half (54.7%) often felt in tune with those around them, and nearly four in five (79.1%) hardly ever or never felt left out.

People living in this type of accommodation also reported a strong sense of control over their daily lives, nearly 10% higher than those living in the community. Control is a crucial component of quality of life measurement . They also felt secure in their homes, with 97% of respondents agreeing that they felt safe where they lived. Both of these findings were assessed using recognised quality of life measures . 

The UK is faced with an ageing population which, the ILC-UK warns, is going to become increasingly difficult to support. It is projected that in 20 years’ time, the number of people aged 85 and over will be almost two and a half times larger than in 2010 . As well as having an emotional impact, loneliness can also present physical health implications; research has shown that loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults , and even present people with a 64% greater risk of dementia . There are currently 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely  which, if left to increase in line with the population, could create a large burden on the NHS.

The research calls on the government to:

  • Identify ways of working with the private sector to stimulate the building of new good quality retirement housing.
  • Encourage people in early older age to consider making such a move.
  • In light of the new pensions freedoms, consider offering information and advice on such housing opportunities to people who make enquiries into how to manage their retirement finances.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK commented: “This research helps confirm that good housing is good for us. Communal living commonly found in extra care and retirement villages seems to positive impact on loneliness, with very few respondents to our research saying they felt a high degree of loneliness or isolation. New and innovative models for providing social care are crucial to address rising costs for care in an aging society. But we simply aren’t building enough aspirational housing for old age. Government must ensure that planning supports the development and promotion of alternative models of housing with care.”

Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Retirement Villages commented: “We have long known that retirement villages offering extra care have a positive impact on those living in them. No one wants to be in a care home, and very few should need to go down that route. The ILC report corroborates our belief that the quality of life in extra care accommodation far exceeds what is possible in a care home.

“Extra care housing offers people the opportunity to live in a community of like-minded individuals, whilst remaining in their own home and retaining their independence. We were particularly pleased to see the ILC report reveal that residents feel a greater sense of control, and importantly a sense of community. Living in the right accommodation, with flexible care give our owners the opportunity to live their lives as they choose, on their own terms.

“We are faced with a growing older population, and this generation are more ambitious and active than ever. It’s crucial that there is a better supply of good quality housing that meets their changing needs. Extra care is a seemingly simple concept, but government, business and society urgently needs to accelerate the provision of alternatives to current solutions; alternatives like extra care housing that can help give older people what they need and want, as well as help the NHS avoid a care crisis.”

Paddy Brice, Managing Director, of Richmond Care Villages, which is part of Bupa, said:
“The report reflects our knowledge that retirement villages are a great way for people to maintain their independence and enjoy an active social life, with the confidence that support is on hand if needed.

“Our villagers frequently tell us they wish they’d made the move earlier. We are currently building two new villages as part of Bupa’s investment in new products and services for older people.  Care villages are clearly meeting a big demand for this style of living as the apartments are being snapped up before we have even finished building them.”

  • Think tank urges continued focus on preventing ill health as research highlights that ill health and inactivity is not inevitable.
  • Age UK announce plans for annual “Greengross Lecture”

A new factpack published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) (1) illustrates the realities of living to 80 for the 367,000 people reaching the milestone age this year.

Inspired by ILC-UK Chief Executive and founder, Baroness Sally Greengross, who turned 80 on the 29th of June this year, 80 at Eighty (2) gives 80 facts about life in your 9th decade.

Across the world, the number of people aged 80 plus has increased from 15 million (1950) to 110 million (2011). By 2050 the number aged over 80 is estimated to reach 400 million.

This factpack incorporates new analysis by ILC-UK of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing by ILC-UK. 80 at Eighty reveals:

Many English 80 year olds remain very active…

  • In England over 16,000 people aged 80+ are still in paid employment.
  • People aged 80+ may be more satisfied with their sex lives, as 67.9% report the frequency to be about right, in contrast to 54.5% of those aged 50-64.
  • More than half (55%) of men aged 80+ are married (or in a civil partnership) vs. 21% of women.

But health problems are common…

  • Around 16% of those aged 80-84 have already survived a heart attack.
  • 49% of women and 38% of men aged 80+ are often troubled with physical pain.
  • 50.8% of men and 56.7% of women aged 80 and over report having a limiting long standing illness.
  • Over one in ten of those aged 80-84 have some kind of dementia

Alongside Baroness Greengross, Julie Andrews, the Dalai Lama, Woody Allen and Norman Foster turn 80 this year. Elvis would have been 80 this year.

80 at Eighty was launched at a reception hosted by Age UK this week. During the reception, Age UK announced plans for the introduction of an annual “Greengross” lecture.

Baroness Altmann CBE, Minister of State for Pensions said
“I welcome this year’s edition of the Factpack, building as it does on the high quality research that has been the hallmark of ILC UK’s work over a number of years. In common with much of ILC UK’s research, this usefully highlights the importance of addressing the challenges and opportunities of our ageing society. Improving quality of later life is an important goal which can benefit increasing numbers of people.”

Baroness Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive said
“It is brilliant to see how many 80 year olds remain active. There were 17 runners in this year’s London Marathon aged over 80.  But 80 at Eighty also highlights the day to day challenges faced by too many people into their 80s and beyond.
The priority for me, as I pass my own 80th birthday, is to focus policy effort on ensuring more and more 80 year olds are healthier longer. Growing numbers of people aged into their 80s and 90s is great news, particularly if we can better prevent the multiple illnesses that can destroy wellbeing in later life.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK said:
“It is fantastic that there are more over-80s in our society than ever before and that this age group is increasing more quickly than any other.

"Growing numbers of these people are making significant contributions to their families and communities - indeed to our country - and in the process they are dismantling ageist stereotypes about what it is to be 'old'.

"No one epitomises this better than Baroness Sally Greengross, who has had a long and distinguished career supporting older people that she shows no sign of giving up, and who herself is joining the over-80s club this year.

"Age UK is therefore delighted to announce that from 2016 we will host an annual Greengross Lecture in Sally's honour. Our intention is that the Lecture will champion later life and the person or people who have made a really big difference to it that year - a fitting tribute we hope to all that Sally has done and continues to do."

“Recent successes in poverty reduction at older ages could be reduced to a footnote in history” in the absence of a long term strategy for later life funding, argues ILC-UK in a new White Paper for the Centre for Later Life Funding.

“At a cross-roads: understanding the future likelihood of low incomes in old age” sets out the priorities for Government over the next Parliament.

In the White Paper, the think tank argues that a strategy for later life funding must:

  • Secure effective funding for adult social care
  • Implement the Dilnot reforms
  • Find ways of ensuring the provision of mass market financial advice
  • Develop default options for those who “sit on their pension pots and do nothing”.
  • Be clear around what constitutes the deliberate deprivation of assets within the context of the new pension freedoms
  • Incentivising downsizing
  • Support innovation in the equity release market
  • Support policy which extends working lives

The White Paper sets the agenda for the ILC-UK Centre for Later Life Funding, which  will explore these issues and trends over the coming year.

Baroness Sally Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive said: “We are at a cross roads. There has been undoubted progress in reducing pensioner poverty, particularly at older ages, but we must guard against complacency. Continuing reductions to social care budgets could lead to ever rising levels of unmet need and thereby greater deprivation amongst the oldest old. Not all babyboomers are wealthy and the pension freedoms alongside an over reliance on housing wealth poses risks to future retirement incomes. For tomorrow’s pensioners, there is a huge question about whether they will be able to depend on the state to provide adequate levels of support given the rising fiscal pressures of supporting an ageing population.”

About the Centre for Later Life funding: This report is the first publication from The Centre for Later Life Funding, which in turn, sits under the guise of the ILC-UK. The Centre is, in part, a continuation of its predecessor body the Care Funding Advice Network (CFAN) – a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to improve on the Care Act’s recognition of the need for financial advice.

The Centre represents a significant expansion in terms of scope and output to include policy briefings and research papers which consider not just questions about care funding but questions about funding retirement more broadly. And it will be focused on developing ideas and solutions to these questions. We think that the artificial separation of retirement funding from care funding is unhelpful given that long-term care can be one of the biggest costs that people face during their retirement years, and the new “cap” will not change that fact. We are grateful to all ILC-UK Partners who have made this possible.

 

The ILC-UK today urges mortgage providers to better understand, and respond to, the increasing numbers of retirees taking loans into retirement. 

Speaking at a conference organised by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the ILC-UK Director, David Sinclair urged the industry to ensure they do not discriminate on basis of age alone. Sinclair also urged older people to think very carefully before looking to “buy to let” to give them a return on their pension savings.

Sinclair welcomed the work being done by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) on this topic and urged the industry body to continue to work with providers to ensure they are better equipped to respond to the challenges of demographic change.

Since 2010, both the number and percentage of mortgages extending into retirement has increased(1).

The ILC-UK presentation draws on five years of research into secured and unsecured debt published by the charity. It has been made available on the ILC-UK website (4).

In late 2013, ILC-UK published a report by the Personal Finance Research Centre on the mortgage debt of older households and the effect of age.

The report found (3):

  • One in five of all households (21 per cent) headed by someone aged 50 or over had outstanding mortgage borrowing on their main home in 2008-10. One in ten older households (65+) had outstanding mortgage borrowing on their main residence. 65-69 year old households with mortgage debt still owed on average £55,200.
  • 13 per cent of all older mortgaged households were struggling to repay their mortgage.
  • More than one third of those aged over 70 with outstanding borrowing had an unlinked interest only mortgage

ILC-UK research in 2014 revealed that the average housing wealth of retirees is £122,000 or £1.4tn in total (2).

While lending criteria has been tightened across the board as a consequence of first the credit crunch and then the MMR, ILC-UK argue that this may not fully explain the rising numbers of people who appear to be excluded from the mortgage market purely on the basis of age.

In his presentation, David Sinclair will argue that broader demographic trends, financial insecurity and public policy change is resulting in increasing numbers of us needing to take a mortgage into retirement.

Speaking at the conference, Sinclair urges older people to be aware of the risks of splashing their pension pot on buy to let properties. Sinclair points out that property investments can be risky and they do not guarantee returns.  ILC-UK analysis has shown that in the 1990s it took 50 quarters for inflation adjusted house prices to regain their losses in value. Outside the South East and London, UK house prices in many areas remain below inflation adjusted 2007 levels.

International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) Director, David Sinclair said:

“The industry and the regulatory environment have been seemingly struggling to respond to ageing and demographic change. We are, however, very pleased to see that the industry have begun to respond to these challenges through the important work being led by the CML.

We are living longer, our family structures are changing, we are marrying later and we are working longer.  At the same time, financial insecurity will result in more people needing to borrow more and later in life.

We should be particularly worried about those retirees with interest only mortgages but no linked investment.

Whilst the introduction of “pension freedoms” could be a boon to the buy to let sector, older people should make sure they take advice before making the jump.

With older people holding almost 1.4tn in wealth in their homes, equity release is going to be an attractive way of supplementing a pension for many.

The industry needs to ensure that the income poor asset rich pensioners are well served by this market. That said, the recent growth in the number of people aged 55-64 taking equity release is potentially very worrying.”

In the presentation, David Sinclair urges the industry to lend responsibly but not arbitrarily refuse loans on the basis of age alone. He also calls on the industry and Government to work to address the fear of borrowing faced by many income poor, asset rich customers.

Sinclair urges Government and industry to work together to ensure that individuals have access to advice. He also urges Government to push ahead with housebuilding plans to ensure that older people have more options to move to more appropriate homes. 

References
1) http://www.cml.org.uk/news/725/
2) From ELSA. Mayhew 2014. See http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/the_uk_equity_bank_towards_income_security_in_old_age
3) The mortgage debt of older households and the effect of age http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/the_mortgage_debt_of_older_households_and_the_effect_of_age
4) Available via the blog on the ILC-UK website and at http://www.slideshare.net/ilc-uk

Contact
David Sinclair at ILC-UK on 02073400440 or davidsinclair@ilcuk.org.uk

Notes
David Sinclair spoke today at the CML conference on “Pension tension: New thinking on lending into retirement” http://www.cml.org.uk/events/pension-tension-new-thinking-on-lending-into-retirement/

 

Age at death will increasingly cluster in the 90s and the life expectancy of men and women will converge, according to a study by academics from Cass Business School in partnership with the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC UK). Over the coming decades, men in particular will live longer, increasing the need for the country to face the challenges of an ageing society.

Based on historical mortality data from England and Wales, Professor Les Mayhew and David Smith developed a new method for forecasting life expectancy which is outlined in their report, ‘A jam-jar model of life expectancy and limits to life’.  The results will be beneficial to individuals, government policy makers, pension providers and insurers as the new forecasts provide more certainty with which to plan.

Les Mayhew, Professor of Statistics at Cass Business School, said: “We expect that most future growth in life expectancy will come between the ages 70 and 90. Life expectancy beyond 100 years of age is increasing very slowly and so will not contribute as much as was previously thought.  As a result, the age at death will tend to increasingly cluster in the 90s and the age of death of men and women will converge.”

One of great success stories in the United Kingdom is that people are living longer and men’s life expectancy is catching up with women’s. Male life expectancy at birth is now almost 80 years, having advanced 14 years since 1950 thanks to reductions in smoking, a decline in hazardous occupations, better health care and higher standards of living.

This success presents the country with a huge economic opportunity if these extra years are spent in prosperity and good health, but significant economic danger if they are not.

Realising the full potential of older citizens of the United Kingdom will be central to the Government’s response to changing economic circumstances and the drive to build a strong, fair economy for the twenty-first century. However, the challenges posed by an ageing society come at a cost in terms of pensions, higher health and social care costs and infrastructural change.

Professor Mayhew said: “The increases in life expectancy also raises important questions, as later retirement requires a capacity to work for longer and it may also mean downsizing one’s home at an earlier stage, with significant implications for the housing market. As a result, we need better information about life expectancy at both the population and individual level to enable better decision making. Policies must be durable, especially anything to do with pensions, health and social care, or housing.”

Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre UK, Baroness Sally Greengross welcomed the report saying:
“Accurately forecasting life expectancy will be crucial in enabling the Government, society and individuals to properly and prudently plan for the future.  Higher standards of living and improving healthcare are clearly beneficial, however, an ageing population requires that detailed provisions are put in place”.

“For these reasons, I welcome this significant piece of research from Cass Business School in partnership with ILC-UK.  It is an important and timely contribution to stimulating the debate that is urgently needed around how society supports an ageing population”.

Professor Mayhew and co-author David Smith used a pioneering new mathematical technique known as decomposition - or the 'jam-jar model' - to produce contributions to life expectancy for each 10 year age band (e.g. 70 to 80). The method provides more certainty over which age groups are experiencing significant gains and more accurate information about possible limits to life expectancy.

Talking about the model, Professor Mayhew said: “Each decade of retired life can be imagined as a jam-jar which if filled to the brim with life years would give a maximum of 10 years. As each jam-jar approaches the brim, extra life years are transmitted to the next decade of life in a predictable wave-like fashion until all are full.”

To illustrate this, in 1950, when male life expectancy at 60 in England and Wales was 15 years, the contribution from the decade of life between 80 and 90 was only 9.1% of the total.  By 2009, when life expectancy was 22 years, this decade of life contributed 18.5%.

“We already know that average pension pots are small and now must last for longer. As a result, greater responsibility will fall on the individual to make choices, to pay for services and to seek help and advice. Therefore we need better planning tools, including approaches to life expectancy that we have pioneered here, to help to anticipate and mitigate these effects,” added Professor Mayhew.

Download a copy of the report here.

A new report published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) highlights the need for ongoing support for carers once they stop caregiving. Whilst the report shows an association between caregiving and declines in quality of life, ILC-UK highlight that an end to caregiving responsibilities does not tackle these challenges. ILC-UK urge Government and support organisations to do more to help carers visit the people they cared for when they are taken into residential care and to provide extra support to carers if their loved one passes away.

The new report is one of two in conjunction with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL) [3]. The reports emphasise the importance of social connections in later life and highlights the problem of low levels of life satisfaction among older people.

The first report, The links between social networks and wellbeing in later life, reveals that:
-  24% of men and 39% of women aged 70-79 report feeling lonely, and these figures rise to 36% of men and 52% of women aged 80+.
-  The loneliest and most socially isolated older people have consistently lower levels of life satisfaction and enjoyment of life than older people who are more socially connected.
-  Both the size of an individual’s social network and their frequency of contact with that network are positively associated with wellbeing.
-  While most older people begin to see a rise in their wellbeing in later life, those who are socially isolated do not.

The second report, The emotional wellbeing of older carers, reveals that:
-  There are almost 1.3 million carers over the age of 65 in the UK.
-  Long term caregiving is associated with declines in quality of life and life satisfaction for carers, and an increased risk of depression.
-  Giving up caregiving is associated with increased depression amongst both male and female carers.

Professor Andrew Steptoe from University College London said: ‘Loneliness and social isolation are problems confronting many people as they grow older. Our previous research with the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing has shown how these problems affect healthy biological function and even survival. These new studies show the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on emotional wellbeing, and that the many informal carers in the community are at particular risk.’

Helen Creighton from ILC-UK said ‘Carers give so much of their time to helping someone else and, quite rightly, the focus is often on the person who is in need of care. However, when their caregiving responsibilities end it is essential carers are not just abandoned. Local authorities need to do more to help ex-carers make connections in their community and may want to consider setting up forums where ex-carers can come together to support one another.’

Ends

Contact
Helen Creighton at ILC-UK on 02073400440 or helencreighton@ilcuk.org.uk

Notes for editors
1. ILC-UK – The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.

2. Both The emotional wellbeing of older carers and The links between social networks and wellbeing in later life will be available from the ILC-UK website from 00.01 the 19th February 2015 - http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications Advan.ce copies available upon request, please email helencreighton@ilcuk.org.uk

3. A research team, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL), has been investigating the mental wellbeing of older people. This research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, has addressed a number of different issues including social networks, social isolation and the impact caregiving has on emotional wellbeing.
The team, consisting of Professor Andrew Steptoe, Dr Aparna Shankar, and Dr Snorri Rafnsson have produced three papers in this series:
A. Shankar, S. Rafnsson and A. Steptoe (2014) Longitudinal associations between social connections and subjective wellbeing in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Psychology & Health, 1-13. doi:10.1080/08870446.2014.979823
S. Rafnsson, A. Shankar and A. Steptoe (in press) Social network characteristics and subjective wellbeing over six years: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Aging and Health
S. Rafnsson, A. Shankar and A. Steptoe (submitted) Informal Caregiving Transitions, Subjective Wellbeing and Depressed Mood: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

 

  • 7 in 10 people with DC pots aged over 55 would prefer pension to deliver guaranteed income for life.
  • Half want a guaranteed income that is protected against inflation
  • Yet 3 in 5 people with DC pots of this age have yet to make a plan.
  • And only half of those with DC pots say they understand what an annuity is.
  • Just 1 in 5 say they understand what the term marginal tax rate is.
  • 1 in 10 aged over 55 wrongly believes that to limit their tax burden they should withdraw everything from their pot as one big lump sum.

New research published today by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK), finds that the majority of people approaching retirement want to use their pension pots to deliver a secure guaranteed income for life, with inflation protection being very important, but many may be too confused to know how to go about achieving this goal.

The new research, “Making the system fit for purpose” finds that consumers approaching retirement are ill-equipped for new pension freedoms. The research has been supported by a consortium of industry partners (EY, Just Retirement, Key Retirement, LV= and Partnership) and guided by pensions and retirement expert, Ros Altmann.

The research incorporates a representative survey of 5000 people aged 55-70 who are yet to retire or draw on their private pension wealth [1]. The survey found:

Guaranteed income seen as “most important”

  • Nearly 70% of all those with DC pension savings favoured using their pot to deliver a guaranteed income, particularly an income protected against inflation, while just 7% said that paying for big ticket items such as holidays or a car was most important, and 5% said paying off debt was the priority.

Older consumers are risk averse

  • Three quarters of people (75%) across the entire survey agreed with the statement “I would prefer a secure guaranteed income over an income that might rise or fall depending on financial markets”.
  • When asked what proportion of their pension fund they could afford to lose, the most common answer amongst those with DC pots was none (35%). Just 7% thought they could afford to lose 20% of their fund or more.

While consumers want income security many are confused about options

  • Only half those with a DC pension said they understood what an annuity is quite or very well.
  • Only 20% of those with DC pots understood what an enhanced annuity was.
  • And just 35% said they understood what income drawdown was.
  • This compares to 9 out of 10 people who said they understood what a mortgage is.
  • Women were consistently less financially aware than men on all measures and are therefore most at risk of confusion from the new pension freedoms

Compounding the problem of confusion, many are yet to make a plan

  • Across the entire survey just 4 in 10 had made a plan. Those closer to retirement were more likely to have made a plan but even amongst those who were less than 1 year from retirement, more than 4 in 10 had still not made one.
  • It is a similar story for those with DC pots, with 4 in 10 of those who are less than 1 year from retirement having not yet made a plan.

Lack of understanding could lead to artificially high tax burden

  • Only 1 in 5 people with a DC pot said they understood what marginal tax rate was.
  • When pressed on how to reduce their tax burden when withdrawing money from the pension pot, only half gave the correct answer that you should withdraw it in small amounts over a number of years. 1 in 10 wrongly thought that the best thing would be to withdraw as one big lump sum. 

On launching the report the Government’s Business Champion for older workers, Dr Ros Altmann said:
“It is clear from the research that there is an urgent need to help people understand more about how pensions work and what their options are when deciding how to make best use of their pension funds.  Even after decades of pension saving, many people have no understanding of the most important aspects of the pension system, which leaves them at risk of making poor decisions.  The opportunity of more freedom and choice in future has the potential to deliver better value from retirement savings, but much work still needs to be done to help savers understand their options.  Promoting take-up of the new Guidance service will be vital to help millions of men and even more women make the most of their hard-earned pension savings” 

Commenting on the results, ILC-UK Chief Executive, Baroness Sally Greengross said:
“These results underscore the significant challenges that lie ahead. By April 2015, we will need a fully functioning Guidance Guarantee which supports the high proportion of pension savers who have low levels of financial capability and who are confused about what to do in the face of these new freedoms. But Guidance alone will not be enough. An advice market that works for the many and not just the few is also needed – including mass market advice that meets the needs of those with limited to moderate net wealth. And critically, there is an urgent need to determine how we support those who fail to take Guidance or for those who take Guidance but are still liable to making poor decisions”.

A nationwide end-of-life rights outreach service, My Life, My Decision, launches today (Thursday 27th November) in London with Care Minister the Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Baroness Greengross OBE and Justice Minister the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP.

My Life, My Decision will empower older people across the country to make informed decisions about their treatment and care at the end of life by giving them information on their choices and the opportunity to discuss their wishes. Volunteers and healthcare professionals will be trained to support people in how they can plan ahead for the end of life, including by making an Advance Decision setting out their medical treatment wishes, or by appointing a trusted person to make health and welfare decisions for them using Lasting Powers of Attorney. My Life, My Decision is run by Compassion in Dying in partnership with local branches of Age UK.

Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb said:
“Decisions about end-of-life care can be heart-wrenching for patients and families so I welcome the commitment of Compassion in Dying to support people with these difficult decisions. We want to make sure people nearing the end of their lives get good quality care tailored to their individual needs - earlier this year we launched our priorities for the care of the dying which made clear people should get care that is focused on their needs and preferences.”

Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:
"Lasting Powers of Attorney are as important as having a will and everybody should consider making one. Lasting Powers of Attorney give people the peace of mind of knowing that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and can trust. Projects like this are crucial in making people aware of the important choices they can make to prepare for the end of life."

Davina Hehir, Director of Legal Strategy, Policy and Services at Compassion in Dying, said:
People want to be in control of their own end-of-life decision making, but this cannot happen without the right information and support. We know that 82% of people have strong preferences on what treatment they would or would not want to receive at the end of life, but only 4% of people have made an Advance Decision or Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure their wishes will be known about and respected. My Life, My Decision will empower people to plan ahead for the end of life to ensure that, as far as possible, they can expect to die well.”

After a successful pilot in East London, the Big Lottery Fund committed a further £1 million so that the outreach service can be rolled out across England. My Life, My Decision has already demonstrated a need for a service which combines information for the public as well as training for professionals on how to support individuals in their end-of-life decision making. It will continue in East London as well as start work in Hillingdon, Lancashire, South Tyneside, South Lakeland, Oxfordshire and Trafford, in partnership with local Age UKs. 

The launch event will be held in partnership with the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross OBE.
Baroness Greengross said:
“Given that death is going to happen to all of us, it is astonishing that it remains such a taboo subject. Now is the time for this to change.  We must talk about dying and better plan for our end of life. Access to advice is vital.”

The launch event will review findings from the East London pilot of My Life, My Decision and the recommendations of the House of Lords Mental Capacity Act 2005 Select Committee, to develop conversations amongst end-of-life care stakeholders, including emphasising the importance of healthcare professionals actively informing individuals about Advance Decisions and supporting their decisions.

The social stigma which surrounds dementia is impeding early diagnosis, care and research into the disease, according to a new report by thr ILC-UK

The report, New perspectives and approaches to understanding dementia and stigma, published by the think tank International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) in collaboration with the MRC, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society and supported by the drug company Pfizer, shines a light on the impact the fear around dementia has on those living with the condition, their families and carers, which prevents the research community capturing a full picture of the disease.

According to data in the report, people over the age of 55 fear being diagnosed with dementia more than any other condition and at least 1 in 4 people hide their diagnosis, citing stigma as the reason.

Professor Hugh Perry, Chair of the MRC’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Board, said:

“This report provided a unique opportunity to focus on a little-researched area that has a major impact within society. We wanted to highlight what may not be widely realised - that stigma exists and that the evidence shows it is likely to worsen a person’s symptoms and quality of life through loneliness and rejection. If people are too frightened to address early signs of dementia, we can’t possibly get a full picture of the disease from a research perspective, to understand how the disease first develops and how it varies from person to person. It’s clear that more needs to be done to understand the roots and causes of dementia and stamp out social stigma– the same way that stigma surrounding Cancer and HIV has been all but eradicated.”

Sally-Marie Bamford, Director of Research and Strategy International Centre for Longevity UK (ILC-UK) said:

"The ILC-UK are delighted to be launching this Compendium with the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research, supported by Pfizer. This piece of work sheds a valuable light on the causes and origins of stigma and dementia and we hope by working together we can start to move forward and help reduce the everyday discrimination and inequalities so many people with dementia and their carers face."

Dr Matthew Norton, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are pleased to have contributed to this report, which sheds light on the stigma that still surrounds dementia and the impact this can have on those affected. Despite the far-reaching effects of dementia on individuals and society as a whole, there is still a lack of public awareness and understanding of the condition. Greater awareness could help lift the stigma that is too often still attached to dementia, and research has a role to play in helping people understand the condition. Dementia is not inevitable, but is caused by diseases, and continued investment in research, such as that from the MRC’s Dementias Platform and Alzheimer’s Research UK’s defeat dementia campaign, is vital if we are to beat those diseases.”

George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Society said:

”Too often people with dementia tell us that since their diagnosis they’ve faced an unacceptable level of stigma and in some cases lost friends and social networks. This wouldn’t happen if you had a disease like cancer and is a totally unacceptable, yet avoidable situation that people with dementia have to face.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of raising awareness but we still need to do more as a society to banish the stigma surrounding dementia once and for all. Beating dementia won’t just happen in a lab. By next year 850,000 people in the UK will have dementia. If we’re going to tackle the condition we also need to make the society we live in more dementia friendly. We’re doing this by creating dementia friendly communities that have the know-how to help and recruiting a million Dementia Friends. Work such as this is a key part of the fight against dementia.”

A growing generation of older men is facing a future of increased isolation. Meanwhile, the number of older men aged 65+ living alone is projected to rise by 65% between now and 2030. That’s according to new research conducted by Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK), which shows that:

• The number of older men living alone is expected to rise from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030.

• Older men are more socially isolated than older women.

• Older men have significantly less contact with their children, family and friends than older women.

• The number of older men outliving their partners is expected to grow.

One year on from Jeremy Hunt’s speech  where he called loneliness among older people “a national shame” – Isolation: The Emerging Crisis for Older Men is a comprehensive new report exploring the experiences of older men who are socially isolated or lonely in England.

The research is based on the latest data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA), interviews with older men, focus groups and existing research.

In England, in 2012/2013, over 1.2 million men aged over 50 reported a moderate to high degree of social isolation. 710,000 men aged over 50 reported a high degree of loneliness.

In the report, loneliness is defined as a subjective perception in which a person feels lonely. Social isolation broadly refers to the absence of contact with other people.

The new research reveals that older men report significantly less social contact with children, family members and friends than older women. Almost 1 in 4 older men, 23%, have less than monthly contact with their children, and nearly 1 in 3, 31%, have less than monthly contact with other family members. For women the figures are 15% and 20% respectively. Also 1 in 3 older men without a partner are the most isolated, compared to over 1 in 5 women (37% v 23%).

The report looks at the importance of partnerships and examines how older men’s social networks tend to decline after the death of a partner. It calls on men to take steps to prevent isolation and loneliness and recommends action that government, charities and service providers can take to better address the needs of older men.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“It’s alarming to think there are growing numbers of lonely older men who may be facing a future alone and without proper support. This new evidence suggests men and women experience social isolation and loneliness in different ways.

“In general, men rely more heavily on their partner to remain socially connected. When their partner dies, often a man’s social life shrinks.

“Our new research highlights the importance of social contact to older men. Poor physical and mental health is much more likely for the most socially isolated and lonely men. In terms of medical services, the evidence shows that older men are less likely to seek help or ask for support. And it’s already known that men are 30% more likely to die after being recently widowed.

“We would welcome more research into the kinds of services that would attract older men to remain more connected to those around them in later life. Sometimes services such as lunch clubs and coffee mornings while providing a very valuable function, may be designed with the social preferences of women in mind rather than the purposeful activity that men may prefer.  We also want the government to follow up on their promise and develop a new measure to capture the extent of loneliness across the population as a whole.”

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK, said:
“Too many older men continue to experience social isolation and loneliness in later life. While we should encourage men to plan better for retirement, we must also accept that many of our services simply don’t work for men.

“Health services and GPs can play an important role in outreach by identifying patients most at risk and providing support in partnership with the voluntary sector. Other statutory bodies should also work with the voluntary sector to develop low-cost innovations to encourage older men to support each other through the creation of clubs and other social programmes.

“Professional bodies should also consider creating post-retirement clubs for their workforce, particularly in male-dominated industries. These could have the potential to keep older men socially connected in post-work life, as well as offering support at certain later life events, such as widowhood, that can impact older men’s exposure to isolation and loneliness.”

ENDS

The Ready for Ageing Alliance today launches its manifesto for action entitled ‘Getting Ready for Ageing’.  The report calls on policymakers in Government and beyond to start engaging seriously with the trend towards longer lives, which is fundamentally changing our country and our world.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance was formed in 2013 following publication of the ‘Filkin report’  and its conclusion that we as a country were nowhere near ready for an ageing population. The aim of members Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anchor, Carers UK; Centre for Policy on Ageing, the International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK), Independent Age and Joseph Rowntree Foundation is to make the case for action to ensure that our society makes the most of our ageing population.

Our demography is changing significantly and quickly: by 2030 there will be 101 per cent more people aged 85 and over in England and 51 per cent more aged 65 and over, compared to 2010. Around one in three of all babies born in 2013 is expected to celebrate their 100th birthday. By the time of the next election, there will be 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This will rise to over 1 million by 2051


The Ready for Ageing Alliance believes that the growing numbers of people in later life are a cause for real celebration but that we need to do a lot more to respond to both the challenges and the opportunities that longevity brings.

The manifesto sets out detailed recommendations for public policy covering housing; health & social care; the economy and communities and calls for Government to take the lead, with a single point of contact, at Cabinet level, responsible for age and ageing policy.

It also targets some big 'policy own goals' that sees us as a country currently hurtling in the wrong direction in terms of getting ready for ageing. For example, it says we must:

- Stop seeing ageing as being just about older people - if we wait until we are 60 or 70 to prepare we'll have left it too late. That's why the Alliance wants everyone to be sent a pack at 50 giving information and advice.

- End age discrimination – Legislation has gone some way to preventing discrimination on grounds of age but bizarrely financial services are exempt and hidden discrimination remains in many walks of life

- Stop operating hospitals on a model designed for the past – Staff/patient ratios on hospital wards for older patients are often lower than on general wards, yet older people often need more help - e.g. to eat and drink

- Stop undervaluing the over 65s, who currently spend a massive £2.2 billion a week and contribute £61billion to the economy through employment, icaring and volunteering.

- Stop ignoring the fact that many older workers are forced to leave the labour market early.  Start building more flexible work opportunities to make it possible for family members of all ages juggle work and care for older relatives.

 

Caroline Abrahams, spokesperson for the Ready for Ageing Alliance said:

“Last month we set out how individuals had a responsibility to prepare for ageing. But the responsibility does not lie with individuals alone. Government is failing to recognise and address the long term challenges of ageing. Unless we wake up to the major challenges ahead we run the risk of poorer, more isolated pensioners, greater intergenerational tensions and an economy which is not maximising the potential of the older consumer.

"Our politicians need to 'wake up’ and respond to our ageing population. There are so many opportunities to be had from an ageing society but without action now we will waste them."

"Longer lives are a great gift and Government must lead the way in getting us ready for ageing. There is no senior Ministerial post, dedicated unit or Cabinet Committee in place and never has been under any administration. We fear this reflects disinclination among policymakers to grip the issue and commit to action.

“We are hugely underprepared for an ageing population - the time to act is now.  In the run up to the election we want every political party setting out ambitious plans to prepare for the demographic changes facing the UK. At the very least we need to stop ageing being seen as just being about older people. We are all going to age and we all need to tackle these challenges.”


Contact: Liz Fairweather
Tel :0203 033 1718
Email: Liz.fairweather@ageuk.org.uk

The coalition urges individuals to keep fit, eat healthy, plan ahead and listen to a little One Direction.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance has set out an eleven point prescription to help individuals prepare for ageing. The Alliance, a coalition of 8 organisations, came together in 2013 to make the case for action to ensure that our society is ready for ageing.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance is publishing the prescription ahead of the launch of its Manifesto on 8th September 2014. The Manifesto will set out ideas for how policymakers can better respond to the challenges of ageing. 

The Ready for Ageing Alliance points out that our responsibility to age well needs to be supported by a series of rights. Policymakers must ensure that we are all well equipped to ensure we are ready for ageing. It argues that individuals need access to advice, services and opportunities for learning.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance calls for the creation of a “Ready for Later Life” pack, which would signpost people at the age of 50, to additional information and advice on preparing for ageing.

Ensuring you are ready for ageing? Eleven point prescription

Get fit: Keeping physically active is one of the most important things we can do to ensure a healthy old age. Learn to ride a bike or get out to the park. Not everyone can do a marathon, but most of us should keep fitter than we do.

Save for your old age: Yes, you will get a state pension. But for most people, it is unlikely to provide the sort of income you are used to. Saving is important at any age. But the younger we start, the greater we benefit from investment returns and compound interest.

Pay off your debts: Having debt can be a major barrier to preparing for ageing. Get advice from a charity such as Age UK or Stepchange and start planning for the future.

If you smoke, stop or cut down: Smoking reduces our life expectancy and can make it more likely that we suffer poor health or need care in old age. You are never too young or old to stop.

Be healthy: Eat a healthy balanced diet, drink enough water, and not too much alcohol. Be mentally active. Keep yourself informed about how you can prevent ill health and ask your GP if you need any adult vaccinations.

Plan ahead: Too few of us plan for the future. And planning for old age is difficult as few of us expect to suffer ill health, bereavement or a job loss. But a little thinking about how we respond to these challenges can make for a better old age. If we are to have longer working lives, it is unlikely that many of us will stay in the same job for a long time. We need to accept our careers may change and invest in careers advice and retraining. In addition, don’t be afraid of thinking about your own death, however far off it may be. Ensure you have taken out a Will and consider a Power of Attorney.

Keep your friends and make new ones: Isolation and loneliness in old age hits far too many people. Maintain friendships and build new networks and relationships across the life-course and into older age. And build relationships in your home community, not just where you work.

Adapt your home: As we age, we want and need different things from our housing. Our homes may have become too big or may no longer suit our needs. If this is how it is for you, think about moving home. Everyone should take opportunities to upgrade home energy efficiency.

Keep up to date with the kids: The world is changing around us. Keep your mind active and engaged, from new digital technology through to new attitudes. Make sure you aren’t missing out and take every opportunity to talk to younger people. Try to get yourself online. Listen to One Direction (at least once).

Talk about ageing: Ageing should be seen as a positive experience. Too few of us talk about ageing as anything but a passing joke. Talk to friends and family about this list.

See retirement positively: A time of change. A time perhaps of getting out more, taking more exercise, eating better, giving up smoking and making new friends. A time to have fun.

David Sinclair, Spokesperson for the Ready for Ageing Alliance said “We should all take responsibility for ageing well. But if we are to keep active, it is important to ensure there are services available to help us do so. If we want people to continue to be engaged as older workers or volunteers, we must end ageism. At the age of 50, everyone should be sent a sent a Ready for Later Life pack at 50, signposting them to information and advice on preparing for ageing.”

97% of the fall in annuity rates down to increased longevity and low investment returns

Many lifetime annuities offer fair value for money according to new research by Jonquil Lowe of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance at The Open University Business School.

The report, which has been published today by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) also argues that the protection against longevity risk may be poorly understood by consumers.

Falls in annuity rates over the past 25 years mean that an individual who wanted to start retirement with a nominal income of £10,000 would have needed a pension pot of £65,000 in 1990 but over £175,000 by 2013. This has led to a commonly held view that annuities are a bad investment, which overlooks the insurance value of annuities, particularly in the face of increasing longevity.

The research confirms that the major determinants of annuity rates are life expectancy and long-term interest rates. A simple linear regression of UK level annuity rates for a 65-year-old man against a benchmark 15-year gilt rate and cohort life expectancy using monthly data over the period 1991 to 2013 explains 97 per cent of the variation in the annuity rate.

The research considers whether annuity rates can be considered actuarially fair (i.e. if the expected discounted present value (EDPV) of the income equals the price paid).

Lowe finds that some annuity consumers are getting more than value for money (Money Worth Ratio (MWR) of more than 1). For most people buying the best value annuities (average of the top three rates), the MWR at all ages for women and at ages 55 to 70 for men is greater than 0.85. This is within the usual range for MWR therefore does not suggest an excessive mark-up by providers.

Even the worst annuity rates generally deliver value for money to women, with the exception of those with standard life expectancy aged 75. The worst annuity rates offer poor value for money to men however; the exceptions being men with higher-than-average life expectancy aged 55 or 60.

The results suggest consumer detriment to those male annuity purchasers who end up on the worst rates, but otherwise a product that is generally delivering value for money.

Lowe argues that annuities should be viewed through a consumption frame, focusing on what can be spent throughout the remaining life course, suggesting that if advisers and individuals are using an investment frame, the focus will be on rate of return and investment risk, but not longevity risk.

The report sets out the implications of this research for pre-retirement guidance and advice

  • Guidance or advice must help consumers understand the nature of longevity risk and how to protect against it
  • Guidance may be needed more than once given increasingly flexible retirements, and the fact that individuals will be free to draw their pension savings in as many tranches as they choose
  • Should government go further and mandate advice for DC members who are contemplating giving up aspects of their retirement security? Is there an inconsistency given those on DB schemes who wish to transfer to DC schemes from April 2015 will need to take advice?
  • Will guidance be sufficient? Guidance is non-specific; does not advocate a particular course of action; and does not recommend the purchase, sale or alteration of particular regulated products from particular providers. It seems likely that many, if not most, individuals approaching retirement would need to be directed to an authorised financial adviser for regulated advice, which begs the question whether guidance has a role at all beyond signposting to sources of authorised advice?

Author of the report and lecturer in Personal Finance at The Open University, Jonquil Lowe said: “This much maligned financial product should ideally still play a key role in most people’s retirement planning and in the free, impartial guidance for every retiree promised as part of the government’s pension liberalisation package. A fall in annuity rates associated with increasing life expectancy does not equate to a fall in value for money ; rather it represents a spreading of value over a longer period.”

David Sinclair, Director, International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) added: “The research dispels the argument that consumers should automatically shun annuities on the basis of value for money. But given the gap between the best and worst annuities in terms of value for money, it is vital that we continue to encourage and support retirees to shop around in order to get the best value annuities.”

The report points out that annuities may not be the right option for everyone. Other strategies and products may be more suitable for those with higher risk tolerance, greater resources and/or a desire to leave bequests. Those with low resources who can expect a high proportion of their income to come from their state pension and those with debts may still prefer to forego a pension income for a lump sum.

Ends

Notes:
In its 2014 Budget, the UK government announced that from April 2015 its citizens entering retirement will no longer be steered towards using their tax-advantaged pension savings to buy a lifetime annuity (a financial product where a lump sum is exchanged for an income for life), or indeed to securing an income at all. Instead retirees will have complete freedom to draw out their savings whenever and however they like, provided they have reached at least age 55.

*If the EDPV equals the price paid then its ratio to price will be 1. This ratio is commonly called the Money Worth Ratio (MWR) and is a standard way of evaluating annuities. In practice, the ratio will normally be less than 1 since the insurer incurs costs including normal profit. If there is a lack of effective competition, the insurer might also be making supernormal profit, in which case the MWR could be substantially less than 1.

The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.

The Open University Business School (OUBS) is a leader in modern flexible learning and the pioneer of teaching methods that enable people to change their life goals, studying at times and in places convenient to them.  The OUBS is one of a select group of schools worldwide accredited by the three leading international accrediting bodies – AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS – hallmarks of quality of teaching, learning materials and qualification impact. It is the only triple-accredited business school that specialises in flexible learning and is home to more than 24,000 MBA graduates in over 100 countries. Its MBA programme offers both residential schools and face-to-face and collaborative learning options.

For more information, please see its website at www.open.ac.uk/business-school

The True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PUFin) is a pioneering centre of excellence for research and teaching related to personal finance capability. Based at The Open University Business School, PUFin is generously supported by True Potential LLP.

Future generations of pensioners face a bleak future unless Government addresses the long term challenges of working age poverty, argues the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK).

In 2012/13, pensioner households were less likely to be on a low income than households with working age adults or households with children. This marks a stark contrast to 15 years ago when low incomes were far more prevalent across pension households than working age ones.

The figures are set out today by ILC-UK as it launches its second annual Factpack on ageing and demographic change (Mapping Demographic Change). The Factpack has been developed as part of the #populationpatterns series supported by the specialist insurer Partnership. ILC-UK highlight that whilst pensioner poverty has fallen substantially, the future may not be so rosy:

  • Whilst 1.6 million pensioners are experiencing relatively low incomes, pensioner poverty has fallen drastically over the last 15 years. In contrast, the proportion of households with working age adults and households with children living on low incomes has remained relatively stagnant. Relative poverty among working age adults without children has increased.
  • The number saving into a pension has dwindled over the past decade from over 5.5 million in 2000 to 2.5 million in 2012.
  • For the first time in two decades, a higher proportion of 18-24 year olds are economically inactive than 50-64 year olds.
  • The average age of a first time buyer without family assistance is now 33 compared with 30 in 2008. The number of households renting privately has increased by 63% since 2001.

Last week, the Office for Budget Responsibility (Fiscal Sustainability Report) predicted that by 2063, age related spending will equal 25.1% of GDP compared to 20.4% in 2018.

Speaking at the launch of the Factpack, Ben Franklin of ILC-UK said:
“We have made fantastic strides with tackling pensioner poverty over the last 15 years. But future generations may not be so fortunate. A combination of high house prices, low levels of saving and working age poverty presents significant challenges for tomorrow’s pensioners. These are long term problems which require action now. Last week’s Fiscal Sustainability Report highlighted the future potential cost of ageing. Taking action now to reduce working age poverty could contribute to long term savings by future Governments”.

Richard Willets, Director of Longevity at Partnership added:
“Alleviating pensioner poverty is something that we all agree should be a priority. However, rather than simply concentrating on those who are in retirement at the moment, we also need to think about the longer-term future. Those who are experiencing working age poverty at the minute are less likely to be in a position to save, buy their first home and start a pension– all steps which can put them on the road to a more comfortable retirement.  Even with positive moves such as auto-enrolment, we seriously need to consider how we can do more to solve this problem and avoid storing up issues for the future.”

Local and national policy-makers are failing to ensure that our communities meet the needs of all ages according to a new report, Community Matters. Making our Communities Ready for Ageing.

Community Matters, published by the International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK), with the support of Age UK, incorporates a 10 point call to action for local authorities to become ready for ageing.

The report argues that policy makers must work to ensure that communities do more than cater for our basic needs. It argues that communities should be places of fun for all. The report highlights the importance of supporting walking and cycling in old age as well as need to ensure housing is adaptable to an ageing society.

New analysis published as part of the report reveals that simply to keep up with anticipated population growth between now and 2037, we will need to build houses at the fastest rate since the 1970s.

The report explores the Government's plan for a new Garden City in Ebbsfleet and highlights ideas to make the new community "age friendly". Ideas include the creation of shared facilities for fun and play, and the introduction of Electric 'pods' to transport people around.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said "Our homes are not just places to live and our towns and cities should not just provide for our basic needs. We must have a bold and aspirational vision for communities in an ageing society.  Cities and towns must of course, meet our basic needs. Yet they are failing to do so. We are even failing to provide public toilets. But our aspiration for age friendly cities must be much greater than providing toilets.

Communities can reduce loneliness and isolation but we must make sure that services exist and well intentioned "safeguarding" does not prevent all ages from living, working and playing together. And we need community centres rather than "places to hire".

Good communities start with good housing. As well as building more, we need to build better.

Our society is ageing. Our communities could help us age well but they are simply not ready for ageing. We must build a new ambition vision of the community of the future. An older community, but also hopefully a more fun one.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says "Our population is ageing and it is essential that communities start to think now about how best to enable older people to get out and about and access essential services.  The alternative is that as we age we are increasingly stuck at home and cut off from the rest of society limiting our ability to enjoy life, to socialise and stay independent for longer. More toilets and seats will be essential for all of us but we should be more ambitious for later life and start building communities that do more than just work for older people but provide greater opportunities for participation”.

Malcolm Dean, who chaired the expert discussions added: "The last century saw major breakthroughs in dealing with the injuries of biological ageing. This new century needs to apply the same energy and commitment to resolving the injuries of social ageing - isolation, loneliness, and exclusion from too many community activities. The report is packed with simple and inexpensive new approaches to making neighbourhoods more 'age friendly'".

The report incorporates an ideas bank of recommendations in order to ensure that our Communities are "Ready for Ageing including:

  • Making our communities fun (swings at bus stops): Local authorities should support provision of desegregated apparatus for fun in outdoor spaces that includes people of all ages
  • Build more homes and ensure they are accessible and adaptable: The Lifetime Homes Standard should be made mandatory and Government should introduce a tax incentivised voucher scheme for housing adaptations.
  • Let us know about our housing options (a "last time movers" guide): Estate agents should be trained to better understand the potential needs of the older consumer and could better promote the Lifetime Homes Standard.
  • Get us walking: Replace the older people crossing road sign with a sign with more positive imagery promoting walking as part of later life. Develop budding services to encourage people to walk to town and services. Maintain pavements.
  • Get us on our bikes: Increasing numbers of cyclists across the life-course should be prioritised as a public health, environmental and social goal by Health and Wellbeing Boards and Local Authorities.
  • Ensure access to green space: Recognise the health benefits of access to green space, and placing some spending on green space under the umbrella of health.
  • Tackle loneliness and isolation: Community centres should protect time for local group activities to maintain the space as community resource (as opposed to a hall for hire). Safeguarding systems should not unnecessarily 'kill kindness' by stopping young and old working, living and playing together.

The Government should create a state-run “Equity Bank” to help low income older people generate extra income from their property argues a new report. “The UK Equity Bank” has been published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) and was produced by Professor Les Mayhew and David Smith of Cass Business School, part of City University London.

The authors propose that, after receiving the appropriate financial advice, an individual sells a portion of their home to the state in return for a guaranteed lifetime income. Upon death the property would be sold, the debt to the state paid and any remaining value passed to the person’s estate. The Bank would be carefully targeted at older retirees who own their own homes and live alone but are income poor.

The report points out that housing equity owned by the population aged 65+ is estimated to be worth around £1.4 trillion or, £122,000 per person on average (ELSA). In households with a deceased partner, home equity could be twice this average. Around 40,000 new people each year could benefit from the scheme.

The proposal responds to an influential 2013 House of Lords Committee report which argued that

“The Government should work with the financial services industry to ensure such mechanisms [for releasing housing equity] are available and to improve confidence in them”.

The paper will be launched at an event to be held in the House of Lords on 12th June chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK, the leading international think tank on longevity and demographic change.

The authors argue that the Equity Bank should be owned and maintained by central government. It is important that the financial benefits are not eroded by higher taxes or the withdrawal of benefits and the Government is in the best position to make sure this does not happen. A trusted state-run scheme as described in the paper could also benefit from economies of scale and relatively low borrowing and administration costs. Because it would be carefully targeted, it would sit along-side and not replace existing commercial products.

Launching the paper, Professor Les Mayhew said “The proposed recent pension reforms, whilst welcome, do not address the needs of existing pensioners whose incomes are fixed and therefore unaffected. Its main purpose would be to improve living standards in retirement, as well as making more money available for every day tasks and services such as help around the home, home maintenance, holidays, etc.  The proposal is aimed at a sizeable group of older home owners, perhaps as many as 400,000, who have relatively small incomes of, say, £15,000 per annum or less, consisting mainly of the state pension and limited additional sources."

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK added: “The value stored in people’s homes could be used to provide greater income in old age and improve living standards. Whilst some people will chose to downsize, there is a large group of older people on low incomes for whom moving house would be impractical but for whom a higher income could significantly help improve their day to day life. Traditional equity release schemes may not work for this group of the population and new ideas, like the Equity Bank, deserve serious consideration from Government and the financial services industry.”

Professor Mayhew points out: “Even if only relatively small amounts were to be released each year, the Equity Bank proposal would generate macroeconomic as well as personal benefits to users. It would benefit local economies especially in places with disproportionate numbers of older people and income deprivation. Over time the Equity Bank would be self-financing but it is plausible that start up costs could be met from within existing welfare budgets.”

Using data from the UK’s largest social survey, Understanding Society, new research reveals that people who are struggling to manage their finances in old age have eight times the odds of having reduced levels of mental wellbeing.

The new evidence is published today in a working paper published by the Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) at the University of Bristol and the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK). The research has been produced as part of the ILC-UK and PFRC project on “financial wellbeing in older age” funded by the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative.

The new research reveals:

•  Compared to those who are living comfortably, those who say they are just getting by have double the odds of reporting lower levels of mental wellbeing, after controlling for all other factors.

•  However, this pales compared to those who are finding it very difficult to get by financially, who have almost eight times the odds of reporting reduced mental wellbeing compared to those who are living comfortably.

The research highlights a strong association between age and mental wellbeing:

•  While more than one-in-five of those aged 50-54 show worryingly low levels of mental wellbeing, this drops to 15 per cent of those aged 80 and above. However, the age group displaying the highest levels of positive mental wellbeing are those aged 70-74.

•  While just a quarter (26 per cent) of those aged between 50 and 54 feel that they are living comfortably, 40 per cent of those aged 80 and above report the same.

•  Only one per cent of those aged 80 and above feel that they are finding things very difficult financially, compared to five per cent of those aged 50-54, and three per cent of all respondents.

After controlling for the other factors, the research finds:

• Older women are more likely to show signs of reduced mental wellbeing than men (odds of 1.5).

• Older people who are divorced or separated have 1.2 times the odds of displaying poor levels of mental wellbeing, compared to those who are married or in a civil partnership.

• Those who live in a property with a mortgage have 1.2 times the odds of reporting lower levels of mental wellbeing.

• Older people who are unemployed have double the odds of reduced mental wellbeing, compared to those in full or part-time employment.

•  Retired people have 1.4 times the odds of having reduced levels of mental wellbeing, while the long-term sick or disabled have almost five times the odds of poor mental wellbeing (odds of 4.7).

•  People in rural areas have slightly lower odds of having reduced mental wellbeing than those in urban areas (odds of 0.9).

The author of the research, David Hayes, Research Associate, PFRC, said:

"This research supports the findings of other researchers that debt may be both a cause and consequence of mental health. However, the magnitude of the relationship that we uncover here is quite staggering. The research proves beyond all doubt how poor mental wellbeing and poor financial management are inextricably related, and has implications for policy in the fields of health and debt. Future work is now needed to unravel the nature of this complex relationship, to provide further material for policy makers in these areas."

David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK added:

“This research confirms our suspicions that having low levels of mental wellbeing is very much associated with financial difficulties. We must ensure that people of all ages have access to the mental health support they need. Similarly we must ensure that everyone who needs it has access to support to help them manage their finances.”

Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive at the Centre for Mental Health commented:

"There is now clear evidence of the links between mental ill health and financial difficulties. People with mental health problems face a high risk of poverty and problem debt while people with financial problems are at risk of poor mental health. Both health and financial services need to be mindful of these links and ensure people get the expert support they need to manage their finances and their mental health together."

Report urges greater role for pharmacy in adult immunisation; the introduction of adult vaccination record card; and a review of whether the approach to vaccination of social care workers is adequate.

A new report, Immune Response, by the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), sets out proposals for the UK to become a world leader in terms of the vaccination of older people.

Immune Response argues that whilst prevention is better than a cure, vaccination remains an underused public health strategy for adults in the UK and across Europe. According to the WHO, immunisation prevents between 2-3 million deaths a year across all age groups.

ILC-UK argue that the growth of antibiotic resistance, the challenges of immunosenescence and the context of migration mean that we need to put greater focus on improving adult vaccination in the UK.

The report highlights new evidence, published by SAATI last week in Brussels, which found cost effectiveness evidence for vaccination of older people in relation to herpes zoster, influenza, Invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia. The SAATI report presented a framework to evaluate investments in health from a government perspective that revealed that every €1 invested in adult vaccination commencing at the age of 50 years would yield €4.02 of future economic revenue for government over the lifetime of the cohort (Netherlands case study).

The SAATI report also highlighted the ongoing impact of vaccine preventable diseases on health in the UK.

  • Seasonal influenza: The UK reported a 2010-11 winter period more severe in terms of pressure on hospitals than during the 2009-10 pandemic winter. In 2012-13, excess death rates were the highest since 2008-09, with peaks coinciding with influenza circulation (Public Health England).
  • Pneumonia: UK and Slovakia have the highest reported mortality rates in Europe (25 per 100 000 population cases in 2005 and 2009).
  • Invasive pneumococcal disease: In 2005, the UK, as well as Belgium, Ireland and Sweden, reported rates of confirmed cases which approach or are greater than 10 per 100 000.

Among the thirty plus recommendations set out in Immune Response, ILC-UK call for:

  • The piloting of a voucher scheme for those eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine. These vouchers could be used not just in GP surgeries but also in registered high street pharmacies.
  • Public Health England and the Department of Health should review whether the current approach to the vaccination of social care workforce in England is appropriate.
  • The QOF to include an annual check on the immunisation status of all GP registered patients.
  • Healthcare professionals undertaking health check-ups of older people to check whether their patients are up to date with their vaccines.

ILC-UK set out a number of proposals to support the creation of a better informed and engaged health consumer. They propose:

  • The introduction of an adult vaccination record card which could be carried throughout a lifetime.
  • A simplified adult vaccination checklist for the over 18s.
  • Encouraging people to incorporate a record of their immunisation history to be carried with their passport.
  • GPs to be permitted to privately prescribe approved vaccinations (in addition to travel vaccines) to adults on their books.

ILC-UK also call upon the Prime Minister’s Behavioural insight Unit (“Nudge Unit”) to explore the potential to use behavioural economics to improve take-up of vaccinations amongst adults. ILC-UK propose the team consider: 

  • The use of ‘declination forms’ by health services and employers could encourage employees to think twice about turning down vaccination.
  • How to play on the strong sense of civic duty which might encourage vaccination to protect others, particularly if advised to do so by their physicians.
  • Creating a social norm of adult vaccination (beyond flu) through an investment in communications.
  • How to make vaccination an “easy” default choice?

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said:
"Innovations in public health over the past two hundred years have transformed life expectancy in the UK and we are living longer than ever before. Over recent decades, policymakers have begun to use vaccination to support good health later in life.

"So we start from a very positive place. But now is not the time to get complacent.  The growth of antibiotic resistance, the challenges of immunosenescence and the context of migration mean that we need to put greater focus on improving uptake of adult vaccinations in the UK."

David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK added:
“The UK takes a world leading approach to childhood immunisation. With an ageing society we must focus more on prevention of ill health and the vaccination of older people has to play an important role. We must improve the levels of vaccination amongst NHS staff whilst also ensuring that employees from the independent social care sector access the vaccinations they need. We must also make vaccination more accessible. An enhanced role for pharmacies could help achieve this. We need an informed consumer who knows what vaccinations they need across their life. An adult vaccination record card for all is vital."

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said:
“Nurses are ideally placed to lead the move towards improved adult vaccination in the UK, and checking that patients are up to date with their vaccinations should be part of all routine health check ups.

“Nursing staff are often the first or only point of contact people have with the health service, which means they have the opportunity to talk with patients about all aspects of their health, and encourage a healthier lifestyle. This should also include checking patients are up to date with routine immunisations, which is fundamental to public health.”

Professor David Taylor, Professor of Pharmaceutical and Public Health Policy, The UCL School of Pharmacy:
"Extending access to vaccination amongst older people has a significant potential for improving public health in the UK and Europe more broadly. The International Longevity Centre’s new report highlights the fact that although the UK’s record is already relatively good we could do more to optimise immunisation rates throughout our life courses. Greater community pharmacy involvement in the delivery of seasonal influenza vaccination for older people could generate increased health gains. So could enhanced protection against shingles in older people and better use of vaccines to guard against the long term consequences of conditions such as hepatitis, meningitis and HPV infection in younger men and women."


Notes
The new ILC-UK Report, Immune Response, will be available at www.ilcuk.org.uk  on Tuesday 19th November.

Immune Response has been funded through an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer International Operations.

Immune Response is being launched at an event hosted by the 19th November 2013, 10:00 (10.30) - 12.30 (followed by a light lunch), Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0RN

The SAATI report, Adult vaccination: a key component of healthy ageing, was published on 13th November at http://www.saati-partners.eu/

ILC-UK are a founding and leading member of SAATI SAATI (Supporting Active Ageing Through Immunisation) is a voluntary pan-European partnership of individuals who have an interest in improving the health of citizens as they grow older, and reducing the incidence of illness through effective immunisation. The partners include representatives from different perspectives, including clinicians, health promotion experts, advocacy groups, nurses, industry, think tanks and healthy ageing specialists. The group has come together with a commitment to tackle low public awareness of the risk and burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.

SAATI aims to: Increase public and policy maker awareness of the need for adult vaccinations to combat vaccine-preventable diseases, such as flu, pneumonia, herpes zoster, invasive pneumococcal disease, pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus

The SAATI partnership produced a consensus statement as a result of a European stakeholder meeting on the “Value of and Barriers to Adult Vaccination” organised and funded by Pfizer. The SAATI Consensus Statement is available at:
http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/images/uploads/SAATI_Consensus_Statement_1.pdf

In November 2013, SAATI published Adult vaccination: a key component of healthy ageing. Benefits of life-course immunisation in Europe. The report is available on the ILC-UK website at www.ilcuk.org.uk

Using new data from UK’s largest ever social survey, Understanding Society, the Personal Finance Research Centre (PRFC) and ILC-UK have produced preliminary findings about the ‘oldest old’ (aged over 85) and their levels of participation, wellbeing and health.

This new analysis, funded by the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, is part of a major project exploring the financial dimensions of wellbeing and wider quality of life measures in older age.

The new research reveals:

  • Around a third of over 85s said they were at least partly dissatisfied with their health, while over three-quarters (78 per cent) of the oldest old felt that their health limited even moderate activities, and about a half felt that pain had interfered with their activities over the past few weeks.
  • While over eight in ten of the oldest old (81 per cent) felt they could rely on family ‘a lot’, more than one in ten (13 per cent) reported not having any friends.
  • A worrying 26 per cent of people aged 85 and over reported being at least somewhat dissatisfied with their life overall. On the flip-side, three-quarters of the oldest old were at least somewhat satisfied with their lives.

David Hayes, Research Associate at PFRC said:
“This research is extremely important as we know relatively little about the experiences of those aged over 85. Yet this group represents the fastest growing sector of the UK population.

With around one in four over 85s at least somewhat dissatisfied with their lives, (much higher than in the general population), policymakers need to devote more time to the issues facing this group.”


David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK added:
“This research paints a negative picture of life for far too many people aged over 85. 

The research backs up ILC-UK’s analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing last year which found that almost four in ten of those aged 85 or older faced some kind of social exclusion. Similarly, our research on centenarians published in December 2011 found that quality of life among the oldest old decreases with age and that the oldest old (aged 85 and over) are, as a group, at greater risk of poverty than younger older people (aged 65-85).

Bereavement and loneliness is a feature of later life for many.  Whilst our new research highlights that over eight in ten of the oldest old could rely on family ‘a lot’, more than one in ten reported not having any friends. Tackling loneliness and isolation in old age has to become a societal priority.”


ENDS

“Nudge or Compel?: Can behavioural economics tackle the digital exclusion of older people?”, supported by social investor Nominet Trust, explores how we can use behavioural economics to tackle the digital exclusion of older people.

The report highlights that over 7.5 million adults have never used the internet. The majority of non-users are older, have disabilities or are in the lowest social classes.

The report highlights new analysis of data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) on the behavioural traits which accompany internet usage among older people. It finds that:

  • People who reported using the internet tended to report feeling more in control of various aspects of their lives.
  • People who didn’t own a computer were more likely to feel that they were unable to learn a new skill, while conversely people who did own a computer were more likely to agree that they could.
  • People who reported not using the internet were more likely to say that they ‘often’ felt isolated from others. Conversely, people who said they did use the internet were more likely to respond that they ‘hardly ever or never’ felt isolated. The same pattern was found for loneliness.

Launching the report, Baroness Sally Greengross said:
“Technology plays an increasingly important part in our society yet millions of older people are still not online. This report highlights a strong association between being offline and isolation, loneliness and a perception of not being in control.  As more and more private and public services are made available exclusively online, there is a risk of greater exclusion. Technology is not just for younger people, it is for all of us. Yet as we move services online, “Digital by Default” must play a role in nudging those people who are offline towards the internet.”

Annika Small, chief executive at Nominet Trust comments: “Digital technology can play a key role in creating strong networks for people in later life that will help reduce isolation and loneliness. It is critical that we find ways to motivate older people to get online by demonstrating how the internet can strengthen vital social ties that will help them to remain active and engaged. This, in turn, can delay and prevent some of the negative effects of ageing that many people currently experience.”

David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK added:
“Public policy aimed at getting older people online has tended to focus how we can develop skills and ensure access to new technology. But far too often, we have overlooked the role played by behaviour and choice.

We have recently seen the use of behavioural economics to encourage a new generation to save for the first time. We must better explore how we can use these techniques to tackle the other challenges faced by an ageing society. ‘Nudge or Compel’ highlights that Behavoral economics can help us tackle digital exclusion. We know, for example, that the fear of something going wrong can act as a barrier to people getting online in the first place. We urge service providers to take away some of that fear, such as by guaranteeing that individuals should be able to return to a paper service if the online experience does not work for them.”

Amongst other recommendations, the report also calls on

  • Service providers to attract older customers by finding ways of discounted installation and connection deals, and initial periods of free internet access.
  • Companies advertising technology and opportunities to learn technology to use imagery of both older and younger people.
  • Government and the private sector to support local digital champions to make the case at a community level for the use of new technology.
  • Government and the private to invest more in adult learning, particularly if certain services are going to be made available exclusively online.
  • The technology sector to place more emphasis on co-design.


NOTES

- ‘Nudge or Compel? Can behavioural economics tackle the digital exclusion of older people?’ will be available on the ILC-UK website www.ilcuk.org.uk on 29th November at 6am

- The concept of Nudge was developed by Thaler and Sunstein (2008)  and is based on the field of behavioural theory which suggests that individuals’ actions and decisions don’t result simply from a rational overview of external circumstances. Instead they are equally likely to be based on systems of habitual behaviour based on learned traits and biases.


Contact:
Jessica Watson or David Sinclair at ILC-UK 020 7340 0440 or 07531 164 886


About ILC-UK
www.ilcuk.org.uk

The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.

About Nominet Trust
www.nominettrust.org.uk

Nominet Trust is a UK registered charity, which believes in the power of digital technology to improve lives and communities.

The  Trust brings together, invests in and supports people committed to  using digital technology to create social and economic value.

Nominet  Trust has invested in hundreds of projects since its inception,  providing business support as well as financial investment, seeking to  connect projects to prospective partners who can help increase their  reach and impact.

Nominet  Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation  responsible for the smooth and secure running of the .uk internet  infrastructure. Nominet has a strong public purpose and the Trust is one  example of its commitment to creating a safer, accessible and diverse  internet.

Almost ten per cent of older people do not have a current account according to new research by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), and Age UK.

Furthermore, the report, ‘Is social exclusion still important for older people?’ found that among older people surveyed in 2002 and 2008, fifteen per cent of older people did not report having a current account at both points – the latest date for which figures are available. Six per cent of older people who reported a current account in 2002 no longer did so in 2008.

The report also found that older people were most likely to become excluded from financial products.  Between 2002 and 2008, 9.3 per cent of people aged 80 plus became excluded from financial products compared to only 2.1 per cent of those aged 50-59.

Older people from ethnic minorities were more likely to be excluded from financial products, such as private pensions and life insurance. In 2008, the odds of an older person from an ethnic minority being excluded from financial products were three times higher than the odds of a white older person.

Dr Dylan Kneale, Head of Research at ILC-UK, said: “While reporting errors may account for part of this effect, the results nevertheless show a surprising degree of instability in the use of financial products by older people. There is a need for more research to understand how and why exclusion from financial products is changing over time”.

To produce the new report, ILC-UK analysed the most recently available data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), which was collected in 2008, and examined how patterns of social exclusion changed since 2002. Social exclusion was measured across seven domains including exclusion from social relationships, local amenities, financial products, civic activities and access to information, decent housing and public transport, cultural activities, and common consumer goods.

The report also found almost a third of older people either no longer reporting any life insurance (23%) or reporting that they had taken up life insurance (7%) between 2002 and 2008. Overall, there was a 9% decline from 2002 among older consumers of life insurance to 42.7% in 2008.

David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK, said: “This report shows that we should not be complacent about financial exclusion. Access to financial products is vital if broader social exclusion is to be tackled. The most disadvantaged are being hit hardest as a result of a lack of access to financial services and products”.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, said, “This research suggests that older people have tried banking and perhaps sought access to other financial services and have found that they don’t work for them.  Many of these services are essential and so need to be designed with everyone in mind, including older people.

“Age UK hears from older people who want to use banking services, but can’t.  This can be because local banks have closed, call centres are inaccessible or simply because they find it very hard to get cash out.”

In the report, ILC-UK urges the development of initiatives and support programmes to encourage the development/uptake of financial products among disadvantaged older people.

NOTES

  1. The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.
  2. The report, ‘Is social exclusion still important for older people?’, will be available on 19th September on the ILC-UK website at http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/is_social_exclusion_still_important_for_older_people Advan.ced copies are available for journalists.
  3. The report ‘Is social exclusion still important for older people?’, will be launched at a breakfast seminar on 19th September.
  4. Age UK is funding a three year research fellowship at the ILC-UK. This fellowship allows us to undertake important research on ageing and longevity. Through the research fellowship, ILC-UK will undertake a number of pieces of policy and research work in agreement with Age UK. The ILC-UK is most appreciative of this opportunity given by Age UK.

Contact:
David Sinclair, Jessica Watson, or Dylan Kneale on 02073400440 or 07531 164 886.

 

The number of people aged 50 plus being socially excluded from decent housing, public transport and local amenities rose sharply over a six year period, according to new research carried out by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) and funded by Age UK.

Over one in six people in their fifties (18%) were socially excluded in two of more areas of their life in 2008 – up from 13 per cent in 2002.

But the research also found that almost 38% of those aged 85 or older faced some two or more kinds of social exclusion, an encouraging decline of 10% from the 2002 levels. For those aged 60-64 years old, the figure was 12.4% experiencing two or more kinds of exclusion in 2008.

These findings were among the disturbing results from the research 'Is Social Exclusion still important for Older People?'

To produce the new report, ILC-UK analysed the most recently available data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), which was collected in 2008, and examined how patterns of social exclusion changed since 2002. Social exclusion was measured across seven domains including exclusion from social relationships, local amenities, financial products, civic activities and access to information, decent housing and public transport, cultural activities, and common consumer goods.

The report also reveals:

  • Rates of exclusion from decent housing and public transport and exclusion from local amenities rose sharply between 2002 and 2008 among the population aged 50 and above as a whole – by over five per cent to approximately sixteen per cent.
  • As people age, they are more likely to become more socially excluded than less– 23.9 per cent of people became more excluded between 2002 and 2008.
  • Almost two-fifths (38%) of those aged 85 and older were excluded from two or more domains of exclusion in 2008 – this compared with one-in-eight (12.4%) of those aged 60-64 years and one-in-six of the total sample (16.9%).

The report highlights how an older person’s demographic, socioeconomic and health characteristics were associated with whether or not they were socially excluded. For example:

  • Older men were significantly more likely to be excluded from social relationships while older women were more likely to be excluded from cultural activities.
  • Being non-white was associated with a higher risk of experiencing some form of exclusion compared to being white (59.8% compared to 47.3%). Older people from ethnic minorities in particular were more likely to be excluded from financial products, such as private pensions and life insurance.
  • Wealthy older  people are much less likely to be socially excluded than their poorer counterparts - with almost two-thirds of older people in the highest quintile of income were not excluded in any form compared to less than two-fifths of people in the lowest quintile (64.3% versus 38.7%).
  • Becoming a care giver between 2002 and 2008 was associated with a two fold increase in the odds of becoming excluded from two or more domains of social exclusion between 2002 and 2008. Those who assumed care-giving duties between 2002 and 2008 were more likely to become excluded from civic activities and access to information, excluded from decent housing and public transport, and excluded from common consumer goods.
  • Those who moved from living alone to living as part of a couple (with no children) exhibited a 68 per cent reduction in the odds of becoming multiply excluded (excluded on two or more dimensions) between 2002 and 2008 compared to those who stayed living alone; conversely, those who moved from being resident in a couple household to living alone were over three times more likely to become multiply excluded over this period. For this age group (50+), becoming a widow is one of the most common reasons for starting to live alone.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said: “Older people approaching retirement (50-54) appear to be worse off in 2008 compared to 2002. Whilst policy-makers have identified the squeezed middle classes as an at risk group, the squeezed middle age group is another at risk group. This report highlights the importance of taking a life-course approach to ageing. We need to intervene earlier to prevent social exclusion later in life.”

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK said: “While this report is welcome, it would be interesting to know more about why levels of social exclusion are rising for people in their fifties, something which the next wave of ELSA data might help us understand. For many being socially excluded can lead to feelings of loneliness which research shows has a significantly adverse effect on physical and mental well-being, equivalent in some studies to well established risk factors such as obesity and smoking.”

Dr Dylan Kneale, Head of Research at ILC-UK said “This report reveals the importance of helping older people access opportunities across a range of domains. We found that becoming excluded from social relationships, civic activities and access to information, cultural activities, and local amenities was associated with a lower quality of life, which in turn could have implications for older people’s health and other outcomes.”


In the report ILC-UK calls on the Government to:

  • Allocate the task of measuring and developing strategies to overcome material and non-material disadvantage a specific team within government.
  • Shift the focus of government policy on ageing towards prevention. ILC-UK argues that Government should focus on ‘ageing policies’ rather than ‘older people’s policies’ in order to tackle increasing exclusion among middle aged people
  • Develop a widowhood strategy. 
  • Better develop outreach provision to reach the hardest to reach before crises occur.
  • Improve planning of neighbourhoods for people of all ages to reduce levels of exclusion from local amenities and decent housing and public transport.
  • Provide additional support for carers and reduce gender inequalities in social exclusion through the expansion of existing intervention programmes.

NOTES

  1. The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.
  2. The report, ‘Is social exclusion still important for older people?’, will be available on 19th September on the ILC-UK website at http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/is_social_exclusion_still_important_for_older_people Advan.ced copies are available for journalists.
  3. Age UK is funding a three year research fellowship at the ILC-UK. This fellowship allows us to undertake important research on ageing and longevity. Through the research fellowship, ILC-UK will undertake a number of pieces of policy and research work in agreement with Age UK. The ILC-UK is most appreciative of this opportunity given by Age UK.
  4. The report ‘Is social exclusion still important for older people?’, will be launched at a breakfast seminar on 19th September. 

Contact:
David Sinclair, Jessica Watson, or Dylan Kneale on 02073400440 or 07531 164 886.

ILC-UK calls for a national debate on the future of the care home

A new “futures” report, published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), argues that the care home of the future must become a ‘community hub’, delivering a range of services under one roof or in closely integrated neighbourhoods.

Launching the report, Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said:
“Our report highlights how care homes have improved over 40 years. Economic, environmental and demographic change will put increased pressure on the sector, as will the need to meet the increasing demands of the older consumer.

The care home of the future must be situated within the community it serves. Care homes should be considered less as a series of physical buildings and more as a model for delivering specialist care within a wider community. Funding models for the care home of the future must help facilitate this new community hub.

We need a public debate on what the care home of the future should look like and how we can all work together to deliver this vision.”

Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services added:
"The care home has a future. I've always seen residential care as part of the mix in some people's care journey. At its heart the care home of the future will be the idea of 'home'. A place where relationships matter. A place open and outward looking, part of the community not closed, isolated and institutionalising. These ideas are part of the agenda for transformation I set out in the Care and Support White Paper last week."

Mike Parsons, Chief Executive and founder of Barchester Healthcare added:
“This year marks Barchester Healthcare’s twentieth anniversary. The care home has changed significantly since we launched our first home 20 years ago. The sector has adapted to many of the challenges highlighted in the ILC-UK report over the last 20 years. But we cannot be complacent. Societal change means the sector will need to continue to change to meet new challenges. Identifying and meeting local needs and engaging with communities local to our homes has always been a vital element of our approach to care homes. We take pride in our position at the forefront of the design of the care home of the future, which will continue to play a vital role in the delivery of care for older people and increasingly act as a hub for community support and the strengthening of community links.”

In the report, ‘Care Home Sweet Home’, supported by Barchester Healthcare, ILC-UK highlight the very significant challenges facing the care home sector over the next ten years including:

  • better engaging the community with care homes
  • making the most of the potential of new technology
  • finding a sustainable funding model for care which ensures that the care home can deliver quality personalised services
  • creating an informed care consumer
  • protecting vulnerable adults without over-regulating and thus stifling innovation
  • ‘chronic difficulties’ in the recruitment and retention of care home staff
  • ensuring environmental sustainability through, for example, better management of the consumption of energy and water
  • making the care home a real community hub
  • tackling societal ageism


The ILC-UK report considers how demographic, economic, technological, environmental and social change will impact on the care home sector. It explores how care homes of the future will fit in to the continuum of care, and how they can develop their services flexibly in order to respond to the changing aspirations and needs of 21st century consumers.

Publishing the report, ILC-UK set out recommendations for Government, the care home sector and the community as a whole. ILC-UK argue that:

Government will need to:

  • develop a funding system to adequately fund the care home of the future
  • ensure that funding is designed in such a way as to facilitate the development of personalised services
  • ensure that any new regulatory approaches to care home management do not inadvertently prevent innovation in care
  • find ways of ensuring improved communications between health services (e.g. GPs) and care homes
  • support innovative initiatives to fund energy conservation and the development of renewable energy in the care home sector

The care home sector will need to:

  • better market itself as a good career option for young and old
  • recognise the challenge of personalisation and find ways of better delivering a unique personalised service to the individual
  • reach out to the community
  • wisely introduce new usable and/or ambient technology to improve service delivery

The community as a whole will need to:

  • address endemic ageism, which creates a negative image of care and of older people
  • debate the ethical issues associated with an increased use of technology in care homes
  • find ways of using the care home as a hub
  • become more informed and more demanding consumers of care
  • introduce innovative ways of encouraging volunteering within care homes

ENDS

Contact
Jessica Watson or David Sinclair at ILC-UK on 02073400440

Notes

  • Spokespeople are available for broadcast interviews
  • Care Home Sweet Home will be published on the ILC-UK website (www.ilcuk.org.uk) on Wednesday 18th July. Advance copies are available for journalists from Jessica Watson at ILC-UK (jessicawatson@ilcuk.org.uk)
  • Care Home Sweet Home has been funded by Barchester Healthcare

Government should support the creation of new financial services products to better incentivise saving

The Government must develop a financial citizenship approach to long term saving argues the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK). A new think-piece, ‘Financial Citizenship: Rethinking the state’s role in enabling individuals to save’ supported by the Friends Provident Foundation, argues that the Government’s approach to long term savings has focused on responsibilities, but not rights.

The ILC-UK argue that the UK has a chronic under-saving problem, one which has been exacerbated by the financial crisis and economic downturn. The Think Tank states that there is an urgent need for policy-makers to address this problem.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said
“We have a long term savings crisis in the UK. Far too few of us are saving enough for our long term needs. There is an important role for Government, the private sector and individuals.
We should move towards ‘matching’ contributions from the government, in place of tax relief, not least because incentives of this form are easier to target. Alongside this, the government could enable accounts allowing more liquid forms of long term saving for young people only, to help nurture a savings habit while recognising the particular circumstances of this life-stage.“

Dr Craig Berry, co-author of the report said
“At a basic level, citizenship implies that, in return for recognising our duties such as obeying the law and paying taxes, we have certain entitlements. We need a new approach to long term saving, one which takes on the principles of citizenship. A ‘financial citizenship’ framework would outline the respective responsibilities of individuals and the state regarding saving. While the current set of Government policies in place are not necessarily inconsistent with financial citizenship, nor are they adequate to support the vital need for more long term saving.”

Andrew Thompson, Grants Manager at the Friends Provident Foundation added
“The Foundation believes that building some savings can be a way of helping combat poverty and developing future personal autonomy - particularly for low-income groups - but is aware that UK society as a whole has moved away from savings as a source of wealth.
Our Trustees were therefore pleased to be able to support ILC-UK to conduct an exploration of what rights and responsibilities should exist in our ‘financialised’ society and the potential roles of the individual, the state and the private sector in moving us in a new direction on saving. We welcome the publication of their report, which raises some very important real-life issues, suggests some interesting solutions, and sets out what the implications for public policy would be. We very much look forward to following the debate that we hope will ensue.”

In the report, ILC-UK set out a series of principles of financial citizenship:

  • Duties must be matched by entitlements, which are not contingent upon private sector provision.
  • The financial system must be ‘democratised’.
  • Policies designed to support citizens to engage with the financial system should involve both universal and progressive (or means-tested) support.
  • Universal support should be designed in accordance with the life-stage implications for recipients.
  • Policies based on insights from behavioural economics are consistent with financial citizenship.
  • Financial citizens have a right to financial education.

ILC-UK urge the Government to consider supporting the creation of The Lifetime Bonus Savings Account (LBSA) developed by Tony Dolphin. Dolphin argues that the LBSA, in offering matching contributions for consistent saving targeted on low-to-middle income earners, represents a use of public money far more consistent with financial citizenship than existing spending to encourage saving.

Ends

About ILC-UK: The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate.

Notes:

  • 'Financial Citizenship: Rethinking the state’s role in enabling individuals to save’ has been supported by the Friends Provident Foundation
  • The think piece will be launched at an event chaired by Baroness Greengross on the afternoon of 24th April. Speakers at the event include:- Danielle Walker Palmour, Friends Provident Foundation and David Budworth of The Times
  • Advance copies of the report are available from David Sinclair at ILC-UK.

Press release from ILC-UK/Actuarial Profession event: Measuring Quality of Life

Maintaining social relationships and mobility in old age are so important for general well-being that some elderly people will go to extreme lengths to keep active, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Surveys conducted during the development of an innovative measure of quality of life in older people found that some 90-plus year-olds continued to play bowls with the aid of new knees, arm extensions or binoculars to help beat double vision.

According to the research, developed by Ann Bowling, Professor of Health Care for Older Adults at Kingston University London and St George's, University of London, another key to happiness in old age is resourcefulness. One 85-year-old widower told the researchers he had developed a wooden 'sock horn' so he could dry between his toes after the death of his wife who used to help him because he couldn't bend down, and had even given some to other people with the same problem.

The research was led by Professor Ann Bowling, who specialises in the healthcare of older adults. A new, well-validated questionnaire was launched at a debate on how to measure what matters to people, in the context of David Cameron's announcement last year that governments need to concern themselves with the well-being of those they govern as well as the country's gross domestic product.

In a keynote presentation, Professor Bowling told an audience of 200 representatives of academia, policy, government and voluntary groups that an essential requirement for coping with the challenges of older age was to build up reserves of social support and self belief. "These social and psychological resources enable people to make the most of their skills, opportunities and abilities so they can compensate when they can no longer do things," she said.

Opening the debate, Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK), said developing robust methods of measuring quality of life would help both government and individuals plan for the future. "Well-being means different things at different times to different people so we need precise methods of measurement," she said. "The long-term aim is to find out what can be done to improve the quality of life amongst older people."

The event marked the national launch of a series of regional debates on quality of life in older age organised by the International Longevity Centre-UK and the Actuarial Profession in partnership with the ESRC. Professor Bowling explained that it had been necessary to develop a new method of measuring quality of life in older age because previous questionnaires had relied on 'expert' or 'top down' opinions and measures such as income. The Older People's Quality of Life Questionnaire was developed from a series of face-to-face interviews with 999 people aged 65 plus, randomly sampled across Britain over a period of nine years, and further tested with two more national samples of people aged 65 plus, with one reflecting ethnic diversity. "Quality of life is a subjective concept so we decided it was necessary to ask older individuals what their priorities were," Professor Bowling said.

The research found social support and self belief helped people adjust to the challenges of growing older.Paul Allin, programme director for the Office of National Statistics (ONS), gave an update on its programme to design and publish short survey measures of the well-being of the United Kingdom, that go wider than economic measures, such as GDP, which are regularly published in the UK National Accounts. A report, outlining the findings of the overall debate and next steps will be published this summer. Annual data will be available from July 2012.

Emily Grundy, Professor of Demographic Gerontology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described how large differences between levels of happiness were reported by older people in northern and southern Europe. The role of relatives and the state in caring for the elderly also varied widely, with nearly 80 per cent of women of 80 plus living alone in northern countries of Europe compared to only 30 per cent in southern Europe. However, the research found that in southern, east and west Europe single women who lived with their children were happier than those living alone while, contrary to expectations, this was not the case in northern Europe.

As with the Older People's Quality of Life research, the Europe-wide study found that people's expectations were crucial to their perceived happiness. "People who compare their lives to those of previous generations generally say they are happier," Professor Grundy reported. "And, overall, there appears to be a higher level of well-being for old people in the north than the south of Europe and more depression in the southern countries."

Paul Cann, chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire, called for better balance in considering the needs of older people. He said too much attention had been paid to physical needs such as who pays for the bath. Loneliness was as bad for the health as smoking and it was vital to help people maintain social contact in older age.

Measuring the Quality of Life was a joint debate organised by the International Longevity Centre-UK and the Actuarial Profession in partnership with the ESRC. It took place at Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, on May 10.

The 'Good Neighbours: Measuring Quality of Life in Old Age research report' is available to download below. Further information can be found here.

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ILC-UK Chief Executive Baroness Greengross has been presented a special Lifetime Achievement award by HRH The Prince of Wales, on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society.

The latest information on ILC-UK events, research and analysis.

Previous ILC-UK Research (1) has shown how household spending steadily falls as we get older.

Today’s “Family Spending” (2) evidence from ONS, shows a similar trend, with households headed by a person aged 75 and over spending substantially less than their younger counterparts.[1]

Research finds that although 9 in 10 65-79 year olds live in under occupied houses, there could be a retirement housing gap of 160,000 houses by 2030 if Government fails to focus on last time buyers

CLOSED

We need a Research Fellow with excellent analytical ability and strong writing skills who has a passion for, and understanding of, UK public policy.

CLOSED

We need an economic analyst to lead on quantitative economic research projects, to feed their analysis into the wider work of the team, and to communicate research findings via engagement with policymakers and media.

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