Making the extra years count: Inequalities in disability and dependency with increasing longevity - report
A new report published today by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) finds that ill health and disability have been on the rise in recent decades, while the proportion of life spent in good health has declined.

The report, Making the extra years count: Inequalities in disability and dependency with increasing longevity, argues that there is a need for urgent action to support people to live not just longer, but healthier lives as part of the Government’s plans to build back better from the pandemic.

Drawing on research led by Newcastle University and funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust, the report found that while many measures of life expectancy have improved over the past decades, ill health and disability have been increasing while the proportion of life spent in good health and free from disability has been declining.

In 2019, the UK Government set a target to deliver five additional years of healthy life for all by 2035. The ILC comments that these goals are now likely to be re-evaluated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as indicated in the Government’s response to a recent House of Lords committee inquiry into the feasibility of the target.

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To deliver on the UK Government’s manifesto pledge and its renewed focus to “build back better”, ILC argues that urgent action is needed to invest in preventative health interventions, such as screening and early detection of disease, alongside a greater focus on targeting under-served communities most affected by the pandemic.

Dr Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow at ILC and report author, added: “Increased longevity is a success story, but the opportunities that stem from this will not be maximised if the extra years are spent in poor health or with increased levels of disability and dependency.

“Our new report – unfortunately – provides further evidence that the UK’s position in this respect is worsening, with gains in overall years outpacing gains in healthy years.

“Moreover, the research reinforces the lessons that have been made stark through the course of the pandemic – that socioeconomic inequalities remain prevalent, with the least advantaged members of society suffering from worse outcomes.

“A key finding here is how the most advantaged have seen improvements while the least advantaged saw little change.

“As the UK moves into recovery from COVID-19, political pledges to ‘build back better’ will only be fulfilled if policies actively reduce the kinds of inequalities that have grown since the financial crisis over a decade ago.”

Professor Carol Jagger, AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing, Newcastle University, argued: “Although the widening inequalities we found are concerning, our project also highlighted that some progress has been made over the 20 year period in respect of the disabling consequences of long-term conditions.

“Though a greater proportion of older people reported the majority of conditions in 2011 compared to 1991, the gains in life expectancy at age 65 for people with long-term conditions were mostly years free of disability. This was also true for older people with multiple long-term conditions.

“So early diagnosis, as well as effective treatment could help older people with long-term conditions slow down the progression of these conditions and reduce their disabling effect.”

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https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/making-the-extra-years-count-inequalities-in-disability-and-dependency-with-increasing-longevity-1-638.jpg?fit=900%2C506&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/making-the-extra-years-count-inequalities-in-disability-and-dependency-with-increasing-longevity-1-638.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomReports & ResearchSector NewsDisability,Government,healthy,inequalities,International Longevity Centre,lifeA new report published today by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) finds that ill health and disability have been on the rise in recent decades, while the proportion of life spent in good health has declined. The report, Making the extra years count: Inequalities in disability and dependency with...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals