Whose ‘problem’ is the ageing population? And why is it always a ‘problem’? After all, it arises because we’re healthier and we’re living longer. So if our ageing population is a success story why do we talk about it as if it’s a crisis?
Last year a House of Lords Select Committee published a report arguing that the UK was “woefully underprepared” for its ageing population. This is not only a serious policy issue, but it also raises questions about our values: how do we want to live our lives? How should we prepare for our old age?
The consultation we are launching today follows our report 2030 vision which looks at what the UK could be like in sixteen years time depending on whether or not we take action to prepare for millions more people living longer lives.
We need to take action now because ageing is an issue affects us all. It’s not just about older people, it’s about how generations live together; how older people can contribute more; how we can help younger people prepare for older age; how we can create an economy that helps the worst off.
The challenges are great: older people are seen as unattractive to employers, despite low sickness rates, hard work and loyalty. Our health services – according to those who work in them – discriminate against older people. Financial services prevent older people getting loans or mortgages.
These prejudices would not be tolerated against any other group. Yet they are not merely commonplace, they are normal. No surprise, then, that these views are reflected in our policies and institutions.
So what should we do about it? This is where you come in. We want your views on two specific questions:
- What do you think would make the UK a better country to grow older in?
- What most concerns you about growing older?
Over the next five weeks we will be publishing a series of blogs from a wide range of experts on health, housing, lifestyle, money and relationships – you name it, it’ll be in there – and we want your views. Are we doing enough as a country to get ready for ageing? If not, what should our politicians do about it? Or do we need to all take more responsibility, in our family lives for example but also in our workplaces?
We’ll follow these online blogs with a short report summarising the responses we get and we will share it with everyone who joined the debate. Then, with the Ready For Ageing Alliance we will use your views to forge a manifesto to take to all political parties so that we can make the UK a better country to grow old in.
So give us your views or leave us a comment below. There’s no time like the present.