Facts & Stats

Information about older people and the ageing population in the UK.

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 15.5 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 3.2 million people aged 80 or over, and almost 600,000 of these are aged 90 or over.

The largest increases in population growth are likely to come in the older age groups; by 2041 it is expected that there will be over 3 million people aged 85 or over – more than double the number that there are today.

More statistics about the UK population and changes in demography can be found on the Office for National Statistics website.

What are the “big issues” for older people?

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on all our lives, including that of older people.

For those older people living in their own homes, a prolonged lockdown is of considerable concern. As has been reported, there has been an increased number of non-covid deaths as people avoid hospital, with the suggestion that many people do not want to burden the NHS at this difficult time.

But there is a large cohort of older people - 1.4 million according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) - found not to be receiving the care and support they need even before this pandemic, who are likely to be more socially-isolated than ever before. 

The Government must consider the impact of loneliness and social isolation on older people, as it begins to plan for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Long-term funding solution for social care

As we presented in the MHA Manifesto 2019, social care has been a victim of unprecedented cuts to public services since 2010, which have seen local authorities reduce their spending on social care for older people in real terms by 17% despite rising demand.

The current crisis situation has highlighted both the inequalities and the interdependencies between health and social care. It has also increased the financial pressure on the social care system in terms of reduced income, increased operational costs in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing and challenges in accessing the emergency funding provided to local authorities from the Government.

It is crucial that social care receives the long-term investment necessary to end the uncertainty and address the underlying systemic issues. We are calling upon the Government to ensure that all older people have good quality care and to cover the full cost of care for those who are less able, factoring in the whole package of quality, sustainability, a professional workforce and a high standard of accommodation

Statistics 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 8.9 years in good health, and women another 9.8 years in good health – just under half of their expected remaining life span. These figures have decreased over the past few years.

  • 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.

  • Around 850,000 people (most of whom are aged 50 or over) are living with dementia in the UK, and Alzheimer's UK predicts that this figure will rise to 1 million people by 2025. Of these, around a third (288,000) are currently living in residential care settings.
  • 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).

    • A survey carried out for Age UK in 2017 revealed that nearly half of adults (7.7million) aged 55+ said they had experienced depression and around the same number (7.3 million) have suffered with anxiety.

    • Nearly three-quarters of older people think that having more opportunities to connect with other people would be the best way to help people who are experiencing mental health problems (source: Age UK survey, 2017). MHA Communities services offer opportunities such as this.
  • Older people provide a large amount of volunteer time to support organisations across the UK.

    • In 2016, the Royal Voluntary Service found that 46% of people aged 55-74 were volunteers - a total of 6.2 million people. This equated to 1.4 billion hours of volunteer time per year (949 million hours of informal volunteering and 4,634 million hours of formal volunteering time).
  • The number of people living in specialist retirement housing or in care homes is relatively low; most older people live in their own homes:

    • According to LaingBuisson (2018), there are 11,109 care homes for older people and those living with dementia. Of these, 42% (4,632) were registered nursing homes.

    • Approximately 418,000 people live in care homes (Laing and Buisson survey 2016). This is 4% of the total population aged 65 years and over, rising to 15% of those aged 85 or more.

    • 167,000 people are receiving specialist dementia care in care homes – around 40% of the total care home population.

    • There are no definite statistics on the number of people living in retirement housing. However, according to the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, in June 2019 there were 730,000 retirement housing units across the UK.

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

What does MHA know about the people we serve?

MHA is the largest UK charity care provider, delivering a range of high-quality services to more than 18,500 older people:

  • Over 10,500 older people supported through our MHA Communities
  • Around 3,000 older people living independently in 69 retirement living communities with flexible support and personalised care
  • Almost 5,000 older people living in 88 care homes - residential, nursing and specialist dementia care

Our services are provided thanks to 7,500 dedicated staff and supported by more than 4,000 volunteers. 

MHA Communities 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. In a recent survey, 97% said they were satisfied overall with their care home.

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