Commenting on ONS Health state life expectancy statistics, Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“It’s interesting to see that increases in life expectancy at birth are now much smaller than the increases seen during the first decade of the century. However, life expectancy at birth isn’t the only measure that matters – how healthy people are in their later years is also important. Looking at healthy life expectancy (HLE) for people at age 65 is a valuable way to check on older people’s health and future prospects.
“This new data shows that there continues to be great variation across the UK in healthy life expectancy at age 65. Although the average HLE for women is a further 11 years at age 65, in parts of the country, that’s as low as 6.1 years. The figures are similar for men, with an average 10.5 years of HLE at 65, but a low of 6.3 years.
“We know from other data that many older people in England face more than a decade of poor health, during which time they are likely to need some form of social care. This could mean facing a bill of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of pounds in care costs, which they would be forced to pay in full if they have capital of more than £23,250.
“These figures show clearly just how urgent it is that action is taken to fix our broken social care system. Independent Age is calling for personal care to be made free at the point of use, to ensure that older people can live a dignified life without facing crippling financial stress.”