On 15 January 2021, a healthy ageing report released by the House of Lords on their inquiry ‘Ageing: Science, Technology and Healthy Living’.
They found that:
- Scientific developments have the potential to improve healthy ageing
- The UK is a global leader in drug development and new technologies
- Inequality plays an enormous role in healthy life expectancy, and COVID-19 is expected to increase the gap
- There is evidence that the rate of multi-morbidity is increasing and specialised clinicians are required
In many developed nations, the population is ageing. For example, by 2035 there are projected to be more than 16 million people over the age of 65 living in the UK; meanwhile, the population of working-age people is likely to remain the same.
However, despite improvements to life expectancy, healthy life expectancy (the number of years a person is expected to live in good health, without disability) has not increased at the same pace.
The report identifies improvements in the understanding of the biology of ageing and pharmaceutical advances as important long-term tools, and suggests funding for these should be prioritised.
Whilst there are technologies and services that help people live more independently and healthily in old age these need to be more broadly rolled out across the population, and focus should be placed on equipping older people with the digital skills to benefit from them. The report recommends Governments makes strategic investments in AI, emerging robotics and data-driven technologies to develop national expertise.