Care needs of older people and dementia

The growing number of older people will have a big impact on the numbers of people living with disease in the future.

Looking after the growing numbers of older people

By 2018 it is estimated that there will be 7 million older people who cannot walk up a flight of stairs without resting, and 1 million people aged 75+ who find it very difficult to get to their local hospital.

By 2030, the number of older people with care needs, such as help with washing and dressing, may rise from 2.5 million (2010) to 4.1 million – an increase of 61 per cent.

The number of older people in care homes or long-stay hospital care will rise from 345,000 to 575,000 – an increase of 67 per cent.

More than 70 per cent of people aged over 70, and 55 per cent of people aged over 60 are deaf or hard of hearing. As the population ages the prevalence of hearing loss will grow; by 2031 there are predicted to be 14.5 million people with hearing loss.

Almost 2 million people in the UK are currently living with sight loss; it is predicted that this could double to nearly 4 million by 2050. This is being driven both by the ageing population  – 20 per cent of people aged 75 and 50 per cent of pent of people aged 90 have sight loss – and a growing incidence in some of the underlying causes of sight loss, such as obesity and diabetes.

Increasing numbers of people with dementia

It is estimated that there are more than 570,000 people with dementia in England, and over the next 30 years that is expected to more than double to 1.4 million.

Although the percentage of older people developing dementia (particularly vascular dementia) may have declined as a  result of reductions in hypertension and other risk factors, this is likely to be outweighed by the effect of demographic change (ie, ageing population).

Approximately one in  four patients in acute hospitals have dementia. Dementia is costly in terms of both  personal and social effects and the wider impact on other parts of the system.

The cost of dementia services will rise by 61 per cent to £24 billion by 2026 (at 2007 prices), with most being met by social care and by individuals and families rather than the NHS.

Development of effective preventive interventions could save significant sums of money. Staff in acute settings and care homes may need extra training in caring for people with dementia and delirium.

Next section in this trend: Mental and physical health