The number of 85-year-olds will increase by a third by 2020, putting pressure on health and social services, researchers said today.
Researchers from the universities of Leicester and Newcastle carried out a study involving more than 800 85-year-olds and found “potential unmet needs” when it came to health and social care.
They discovered that while many of the participants felt in good health and were optimistic, a proportion had undiagnosed health problems.
Everyone in the study, published online in the British Medical Journal, lived in Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside and were followed via check-ups and analysis of their medical records.
The study found that 12 per cent of the group were suffering moderate or severe mental decline, while 21 per cent had incontinence. A total of 60 per cent had hearing problems and 37 per cent had issues with their sight.
Additionally, 58 per cent of the group had high blood pressure, 52 per cent had osteoarthritis and 47 per cent had hardening and narrowing of the arteries, while 47 per cent had cataracts.
The authors concluded: “For planners of services, on the basis of present demographic trends, we can say that in the UK by 2020 the 85-year-old population will increase by 33 per cent, 10 per cent of whom currently require institutional care, 32 per cent of whom have had an outpatient attendance, and 7 per cent an attendance at an accident and emergency department in the past three months.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The pace of demographic change is exactly why we are proposing a new National Care Service to make the care and support system simpler, fairer and more affordable for everyone who needs it..”