Scotland’s population is getting older - and we must prepare for this

Crop old people

The country needs to urgently prepare for the health, care and housing needs of a rapidly ageing population

Graham Martin's photo

21st October 2019 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Scotland must do more to prepare for a quarter of a million more older people, charities have warned.

They say the country needs to urgently prepare for the health, care and housing needs of a rapidly ageing population, as well as a steep rise in older workers.

New figures from National Records of Scotland predict a 23.2% rise in the number of pensioners by 2043, equivalent to more than 240,000 older people.

Only 62% of the population will be working age, compared to 64% in mid-2018.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “It’s welcome news that we’re living longer, but we need to do more to prepare for the health, social care, and housing needs of a soaring older population.

“This trend has been clear for years, but we are still not investing nearly enough resources in our NHS and social care system. They are already buckling under the strain, with delayed discharges out of control and too many older people unable to access the care they need, when they need it.”

He said that health and social care partnerships across Scotland are also going to have to “start firing on all cylinders” to get this right.

And it is only going to get more challenging with rising demand and fewer younger people to support them.

Sloan added: “Our research shows that thousands of older people are stuck in unsuitable homes and are unable to downsize or adapt them to fit their needs. We urgently need to build much more accessible, adaptable, age-friendly homes that are part of communities and allow people to live independently as long as possible.”

This was echoed by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), which said the figures show further evidence of the desperate need for more financial support for the housing sector. 

Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “These figures once again highlight how vital it is to secure the investment needed for more homes that are fit for people’s needs, both now and in the future. 

“There remains a significant, and increasing, demand for social housing, with around 160,000 households on waiting lists. In 2015, we called for the delivery of 60,000 affordable homes by the end of this Parliamentary term in 2021. The Scottish Government responded with an overall programme of 50,000 and that is well on the way to being reached. 

“However, the need continues to grow and ongoing Scottish Government investment in our sector is vital for its future and for the sustainability of communities.” 

The figures show that despite the increase in older people, there are still more deaths than births each year, and growth could stall by 2043 if migration does not fill the gap.

Scottish Government cabinet secretary for external affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “We want people in Scotland to live longer, healthier and happier lives so this projected increase in life expectancy is extremely welcome.

“Today’s figures also suggest that inward migration will be the only driver of population growth in Scotland, however, they do not take into account the damaging potential impact of Brexit.

“Our pension age population is projected to grow while our working age population falls, and could decline even further if EU migration is reduced. This is why Scotland needs inward migration to support our public services and economy, particularly in sectors like tourism, hospitality, construction and agriculture, but also to enrich and diversify our society.

“It is clear Scotland urgently needs powers to deliver a tailored immigration system so we can mitigate against the risks of the UK government’s increasingly restrictive policies and ensure Scotland can continue to be a welcoming, progressive and diverse country.”

22nd October 2019 by David T

Whilst the article raises an important issue, the image attached to it is the worse kind of stereotyping and one that fills many of us older people with dread.Please think more carefully about how older people are depicted.