Health and wellbeing needs: Older people

Key issues

  • Demographic and population - dramatic increase in ageing population suggests future pressure on community, primary and secondary care.
  • Dementia - increasing prevalence of dementia in people aged 75+.
  • Economy and income - South Tyneside is an area of high deprivation with many older people remaining asset rich due to increasing land values and property prices, yet relatively cash poor leading to less available money to support a healthy lifestyle or adequately fuel their home. Pensioner benefits have been protected due to changes in government legislation. Pensioner reforms could lead to boom in consumption and financial pressures once assets are exhausted.
  • Access to good quality information and advice is crucial now and will grow in importance as society ages. The ability to plan and prepare for later life is fundamental to promoting the health and wellbeing of older people. Finance, housing and care options in later life are inextricably linked. Access to integrated, impartial good quality information and advice is vital to informed decision-making and a central component of Care Act 2014.
  • Health and long-term conditions - An ageing society has led to the prevalence of long-term conditions. Prevention, delaying onset and slowing progression of long-term conditions and encouraging older people to self-care and manage their conditions will alleviate pressure on the health and social care system.
  • Housing - a key contributor to people's sense of wellbeing particularly if their quality of housing is high and there is local community support. Quality of housing is important to quality of life throughout life but maybe critical in later life and needs to be reflected through social housing policy, sheltered housing as well as the Local Development Framework and considering wider implications, for example dementia friendly communities.
  • Transport and access - although South Tyneside is an urban area with established transport links, some wards have limited access to transport, which could prevent older people from living as independently as possible.
  • Falls - the impact of a fall can affect older people's confidence and ability to retain their independence and remain an active citizen in their local community. The implications of repeat falls also have an impact on people and their ability to cope and live independently as well as on hospital admissions.
  • Physical disabilities and sensory impairment.
  • People from diverse cultural backgrounds may not engage with statutory or existing local provision and often have fewer opportunities to access services due to language or cultural barriers.
  • Social isolation, improving older people's independence and quality of life.
  • Fuel poverty and cold homes - detailed in future needs assessment.
  • Excess Winter deaths - detailed in future needs assessment.

The Leaders and Elected Mayors Group for the North East asked areas to focus on two aspects that are regularly cited as being critical to health and wellbeing of older people: promoting a healthy old age and tackling loneliness and isolation. The report states preventative services are key to supporting increasing demand to reduce pressure on services. (Association of NE Councils)