People are living longer than ever before, and the proportion of older people in our society is growing. In Northern Ireland we have the fastest growing older people’s population in the UK, which currently stands at 272,819 aged 65 and over. In the South Eastern Trust area there are approximately 57,300 people aged 65+ of which 25,370 are male and 31,930 female.
This is rightly a cause for celebration. However, population ageing, with the fastest rise in the ‘oldest old’, means that the overall number of people in our society with health or care needs has risen. This trend holds new responsibilities and challenges for Health and Social Care services in helping older people stay healthy, active and independent for as long as possible.
The adoption of healthy lifestyles and actively participating in one’s own care are important regardless of your age and it is never too late to adopt such life styles in the later years. Engaging in appropriate physical activity, healthy eating, not smoking and using alcohol and medications wisely in older age can prevent disease and functional decline, extend longevity and enhance one’s quality of life.