England’s population is ageing. In the next 25 years, the number of people older than 85 will double to 2.6 million. In many ways this is something to celebrate. However, as people age the risk of developing illnesses and becoming frail increases, leading to greater need for health and social care. But does our ageing population mean an inevitable rise in demand and the costs of care? As this report explores, the reality is more subtle and complex.
Our report examines this dynamic by analysing changes in two measures of need:
– an estimate of social care need, drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)
– prevalence of long-term conditions, as a proxy for health and health service demand.
It explores how health and care needs change with age, how the relationship between need and age has changed over time and how long-term conditions and social care needs interact.
The report includes five key insights for policymakers and system leaders, and highlights the complexities involved in predicting future demand for health and social care based on demographic changes.