By 2030 there will be double the number of people aged 85 or older compared with 2010. Yet we still have a very long way to go before the oldest in our society are given all the support they need to remain independent and live healthy, enjoyable lives. Faced with an ageing population, the time has come for policymakers to take firm action and help the UK to get ready for rapid demographic change.

Unfortunately, life at present is not as universally positive or rewarding for older people as some commentators would have us believe. Too many older people have to fight to be heard and have their needs recognized. They can struggle to get the most basic support and can often feel like they are battling a system that is set up to complicate things and present barriers to getting help.

Evidence from our own services, together with other findings, highlight where major gaps still need to be plugged so that the country can respond to millions more of us living into old age.

In this report we share some of our own evidence, including stories older people and their family members have shared with us. We specifically focus on the obstacles that need removing so older people and their carers can access the most basic services and support. Their testimonies reveal what a difference early intervention can make, as well as where things are going wrong. The inescapable conclusion is that we are still not responding well enough, as a country, for a rapidly ageing population and remain underprepared.

Now it is the job of policymakers to act.