SOLIHULL’S population of over 85-year-olds has increased by 57 per cent since 2006 – compared to a 28 per cent UK increase.
The borough’s ‘rapidly ageing population’ has been identified as a key issue for the future by Solihull council.
The population of over 80-year-olds is set to increase by a third by 2026, the council estimates.
The wider implications include a likely increase in demand for voluntary and community services, rising numbers of carers and increased risk of illness, social isolation and loneliness.
The council wants more government funding to help ease the borough’s particular ‘pressures’ associated with the issue.
According to the council’s public health annual report, It is estimated that by 2036, 1 in 20 will be aged 85 and above in Solihull.
Council documents estimate this could be around five or six per cent of the overall population.
The Office of National Statistics shows Solihull’s population is already older than the national average with 21 per cent of the population 65 and above – compared with the UK average of 18 per cent.
Cabinet member for adult social care and health, councillor Karen Grinsell, said: “Modern technology and medical intervention means we can live longer.
“We want people to live longer obviously, but we want people to live healthily – that’s the key.
“We need to make sure there are services for dementia, people can downsize into the right properties, we have domiciliary (household) care that can meet the needs of a rapidly ageing population.
“So getting people active younger will hopefully keep people active and healthy as they get older.
“We will be looking more at how we can use technology to help us as we age.
On government funding and adult social care cuts she said: “The Green Paper will come forward in the summer so we are very much looking forward to that being able to contribute because we have a higher proportion of elderly residents – other councils will have different pressures.
“But once we are given the funding and able to decide how to use it locally, we can then take some of the pressure off the health service”.
The ageing population appears to have contributed to a higher than average rate of injuries from falls among the elderly and a worrying excess in winter deaths among those older than 85, as shown in the council’s Draft Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (DJSNA) for 2017/18.
The report also shows a worrying increase in people suffering serious or debilitating illnesses.
The number aged 65 and above with dementia is set to rise by 39 per cent by 2030 and those with a health condition caused by coronary heart disease could rise by around 600 people in same period.
By 2030, the number unable to manage at least one self care task on their own will be up to 19,811 from 15,287 last year.
Anne Hastings, chief executive of Age UK in Solihull, said: “We believe older people should be able to live well, not just survive and the right care and support can help them to do that.
“Solihull, like many other councils, is facing the challenge of providing the right care and support to the growing number of older people with social care needs, with ever more limited resources.
“Age UK Solihull is committed to working closely with Adult Social Care to highlight the needs of older people.”
After discussing council cuts to funding in the voluntary sector, Coun Grinsell added: “The voluntary sector can do some things better than the council can at a local level, they are in touch with lots of elderly people on a daily basis – we all need to work together, there will always be a need for the voluntary sector.”