With the number of over-65s set to double by 2030, the UK’s ageing population has never been higher on the government’s agenda. During the course of the last parliament, however, politicians were accused of failing to plan for the growing numbers of older people and the possible impact on public services and society.
So how can the community as a whole prepare for the ageing population?
1. Preventive health care—including health and “lifestyle” education, immunisations and health screenings—to reduce injuries and the onset of chronic diseases. Include a range of in-home services that will help older adults staying their homes longer.
2. Nutrition education to promote healthy eating through a person’s entire lifespan, and community-sponsored nutrition programs like home-delivered meals for older adults who have difficulty preparing their own meals.
3. Age-appropriate fitness programs and recreational facilities that offer walking trails, benches, and fitness equipment.
4. Safe driving assistance, including larger, easier-to-read road signage, grooved lane dividers, reflective road markings and dedicated left-turn lanes. Include driver assessments and training to promote safe driving for all ages, especially after strokes or other health incidents. Make transportation options available for people who cannot or do not want to drive.
5. Special planning and training for public safety personnel and other first responders to help them locate and assist older adults during emergencies and disasters.
6. Home modification programs to help people adjust for special needs. Include zoning and subdivision plans that promote a variety of affordable, accessible housing located near medical, commercial and other desired services, as well as shared housing options for older adults and their caregivers.
7. Tax assistance and property-tax relief for people in financial need, and programs to protect older adults against scams and elder abuse.
8. Job training, re-training and lifelong learning opportunities, plus flexible employment options that will attract and retain older workers.
9. Community engagement opportunities, including serving on community boards and commissions, as well as volunteer opportunities in local government and non-profit organizations.
10. Single point of access to ALL aging information and services in the community, and the strategic expansion of services that will help older adults age with dignity and independence in their homes and communities.