The population aged over 85 years old who are in need of round-the-clock care is set to double, according to research published in the Lancet Public Health journal.
Between 2015 and 2035, elderly people in England who need 24-hour care will increase by 1.5 million and the number of those aged 65 and over, also in need of care, will rise by a third.
‘The challenge is considerable. Our study suggests that older spouse carers are increasingly likely to be living with disabilities themselves,’ said Carol Jagger, from the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and one of the study’s authors.
‘On top of that, extending the retirement age of the UK population is likely to further reduce the informal carer pool, who have traditionally provided for older family members.’
The government is to set out plans for social care reform, including changes to funding, in an upcoming green paper this autumn.
This study, carried out by Newcastle University and the London School of Economics and Political Science, showed that the elderly population (over 85s) is the fastest growing demographic in the UK.
As a consequence of an ageing population, the NHS may find it difficult to cope with the increased uptake of services – many elderly people suffer from long-term health conditions, such as diabetes and dementia, and have complex care needs.
‘Adult social care services face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care,’ said Nick Forbes, senior vice-chair of the Local Government Association.
‘The system is at breaking point, ramping up pressures on unpaid carers. There is an urgent need to plug the immediate funding gap and find a long-term solution to how we pay for adult social care.’
Back in June, the government agreed to a funding rise for the NHS where it will see its budget increase by £20 billion a year by 2023.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘In the autumn we will set out our plans to reform adult social care alongside our long-term plan for the NHS, so we can address the challenge of our growing ageing population head on and ensure services are sustainable for the future.’