The demographics, statistics and predicted trends surrounding ageing can make fascinating, and sometimes alarming, reading. However, all too often researchers, policy-makers, and service providers can become transfixed by the numbers and lose sight of the individual experiences of the people behind the statistics.
This new Young Foundation report, funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF), is not about numbers; it is about people. It explores the lives of older people in England today, and of the family and friends around them. We try to show older people’s lives in the context of their own personal histories and experiences, as well as their current experience of ageing. How does being older affect them? What are their perceptions of this time of their life? How do their current experiences draw from their own life history? What activities do they take part in? What support do they value? How do they experience support from the State? What would improve their lives?
The report aims to give a window into older people’s lives, and an insight into the ways they can and do contribute to the community, whilst also serving as a resource for use by anyone is who is developing services for older people, or indeed developing services for the wider population. A clear implication of this report is that ‘business as usual’ is not good enough even now – let alone for the future of an ageing society. Radical thinking is needed about how we can better support older people within our communities and about how care and support is provided. We need to look both at new models for delivering NHS and social care services to older people, and at how we mobilise the UK’s communities to support the older people living in our midst.