The number of people in the world aged 80 or over is expected to almost quadruple by 2050, rising to 395m or 4.3% of the global population.
With older people more likely to experience chronic conditions such as poor mobility, sensory losses and dementia, experts say health services must change radically.
We’ll have to get past our obsession with accident and emergency units. It’s the last place many people with chronic conditions need to be. Instead of focussing on accident and emergency units, we’ll need to redeploy services to appropriately designed facilities that can treat people in the community or at home.
It’s the technology behind the scenes where most change is needed. Currently, information is locked in silos – whether it’s hospital records or doctors’ notes. IT needs to work across patient pathways so that commissioners and service providers can get hold of the information they need to deliver quality care.
Ultimately this comes down to how well we want people to live. The scale of change is enormous and will affect society: the built environment must change, we need new services and we need new technology. It will test the ability of the leaders in our health service to deliver this change.