More than 60 organisations in the health, social care, housing, employment and voluntary sectors have pledged to work together to make England the best country in the world to grow old.
Brought together by the Centre for Ageing Better and Public Health England (PHE), more than 60 organisations – including NHS England, Carers UK and Independent Age – have announced the launch of a shared vision on healthy ageing.
Signatories have committed to five key principles: prioritising prevention and public health; creating opportunities for people to contribute to society as they age; fostering accessible and inclusive homes and neighbourhoods; narrowing inequalities in healthy ageing; and challenging ageist language, culture and practices.
Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better commented: “Many of us are living longer, in part due to advances in medicine and public health. While many people can look forward to being healthy when they reach later life, most of us will find ourselves managing long-term health conditions or disabilities at some point, in a society that too often treats us as past our sell by date.
“Our health should not dictate how we live our lives or prevent us from doing the things we want to do. That’s why it’s so important to help people to stay healthy for as long as possible, build homes and communities that enable us to stay active and connected, and stamp out the ageist attitudes that have an impact on our health.”
The shared vision is published alongside the results of a new online YouGov survey of over 2,000 people aged 40-60, commissioned by Ageing Better and Independent Age, looking into hopes, fears and expectations about health in later life.
Many of those surveyed worry their physical health will affect their ability to do things like be as financially secure as they’d like (62%), be as physically active as they want (55%), or live in the kind of home they want (43%) at 65 or older. Two in three (67%) think ageism or being treated differently based on age negatively affects the physical health of over-65s.
When asked what will be most important to them when they are over 65, four in five (81%) rated having good mental health as “very important”. People also listed being financially secure (74%), having good physical health (72%) and being able to see family and friends face to face (60%) as very important. When they are over 65, 71% plan to be physically active at recommended levels and 74% plan to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Respondents say improving homes (69%) and neighbourhoods (68%) to meet the needs of older people, for example by providing home adaptations at reduced cost, should be prioritised in the UK for ensuring that people over the age of 65 have a good quality of life.
Other priorities include preventing people from being treated differently due to their age (63%) and supporting people to stay in work for as long as they want (58%).
By endorsing this shared vision, signatories add their voice to calls to tackle these issues.
Phil Mawhinney, Policy Manager at Independent Age, added:“As we grow older, we all want to live life on our own terms, and this research has found that most people aged 40-60 think having good physical and mental health will be very important when they are older.
“While it’s no surprise that people value being financially secure, able to live independently at home and see friends and family, with more people living longer, it’s vital that we do more to tackle ageism, poor health, poverty and loneliness among people in later life.”