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There are lots of statistics available about older people and the ageing population.  Here you will find those facts and statistics we use regularly and that we consider come from credible sources and robust evidence.

Please contact us at policyandresearch@mha.org.uk if you need further assistance.

How many older people are there in the UK?

It is well known that the UK population is ageing, with more people living longer lives than previously. There are now over 15 million people aged 60 or over, making up 23% of the UK population.

The number of “older” old people is also rising – there are now 3 million people aged 80 or over, and half a million of these are aged 90 or over.

The largest increases in population growth are likely to come in the older age groups; by 2039 it is expected that there will be almost 22 million people aged 60 or over – more than half as many again as there are today.

The Office for National Statistics provides more statistics about the UK population and changes in demography.

What are the “big issues” for older people?

In 2015, MHA carried out a large-scale piece of research with almost 5,000 people across the UK – MHA Customer Research 2015.pdf

As part of this, we asked about people’s hopes and fears about the ageing process, and repeatedly heard three main topics mentioned:

  • Personal finance – whether people would be able to afford a good retirement, including paying for care and support if they needed it
  • Health and wellbeing – concerns about maintaining health and independence into later life
  • Companionship or loneliness – being able to maintain friendships and family ties, to avoid boredom, loneliness and isolation.

The Centre for Ageing Better also found similar findings through their research on later life.

What do we know about older people in the UK?

Health does decline as people age, but many older people remain healthy and active long into their older age:

  • At age 65, men in England can expect to live on average another 10.6 years in good health, and women another 11.5 years in good health – around 60% of their expected remaining life span.
  • Around 4 million older people (40% of people aged 65 and over) have a limiting long-term illness or disability, and it is estimated that this will rise to over 6 million older people by 2030.
  • Just over 800,000 people aged 65 and over are living with dementia Loneliness and low mental wellbeing is a problem for many older people:
  • 24% of people aged over 60 stated they felt lonely sometimes or often; this equates to just over 3 million people in the UK population (source: English Longitudinal Study of Ageing).
  • 11.9% of people aged 60 or over have low levels of mental wellbeing (defined as a score of 40 or less out of 70). This equates to approximately 1.5 million older people in the UK.(source: Health Survey for England in 2014) Older people provide a large amount of volunteer time to support organisations across the UK. The Citizenship Survey 2008-09 found that 30% of people aged 65-74 did some form of formal volunteering, and that over 65s gave the second highest number of hours as volunteers. The number of people living in specialist retirement housing or in care homes is relatively low; most older people live in their own homes:
  • Approximately 416,000 people live in care homes (Laing and Buisson survey 2016). This is 4% of the population aged 65 years and over, rising to 16% of those aged 85 or more.
  • There are no definite statistics on the number of people living in retirement housing.  Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested there were about 550,000 dwellings in 2012, and that these housed around 5% of the older population.

Age UK regularly update a factsheet with considerable detail about later life in the UK.

What does MHA know about the people we serve?

MHA delivers a range of high quality services to more than 17,700 individuals:

  • 10,330 older people supported through 61 Live at Home services in the community.
  • 2,780 older people living independently in 73 retirement living communities with flexible support and personalised care, with a further ten sites in development
  • 4,600 older people living in 88 care homes - residential, nursing and specialist dementia care – with two more in development

Our services are provided thanks to 7,000 dedicated staff and enhanced by the commitment of 5,500 volunteers. 

Live at Home members are the most diverse group of older people we serve, as many join the groups as volunteers and then gradually begin to receive services as they age.  Just over three-quarters of members are female, just over half live alone. Their ages range from 50 to 103, with the average age being 80.

Our Retirement Living residents are slightly older: their average age is 82 and two-thirds are aged over 80.  Just over two-thirds are female, and 30% live with a partner, relative or friend. 

Just under a quarter of our care home residents are male, and this proportion is increasing annually. They are the oldest group we serve: their average age is 87, and two-thirds are aged over 85. The most common names are Margaret and Mary for women and John for men. In a recent survey, 96% said they were satisfied overall with their care home.  

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