Future of an ageing population

The Go-Science Foresight report explores the impact of the demographic shift in UK population, and how we will need to make changes across many aspects of our lives.

The population of the UK has undergone a fundamental change in its age structure, with many people having fewer children and living longer lives.

As a result the average age of the UK population is increasing. This has important implications for the whole of society. Growing up and living in a society where younger people are in a majority is fundamentally different to growing up in a society where the majority of people are in older age groups.  

Responding to this demographic shift will require us to make adaptations across many aspects of our lives: how we work; how we care for, communicate and interact with each other; the built environment we live and work in; the way we live our lives; how we learn; and how we use technology.

Bringing together evidence about today’s older population, with future trends and projections, to identify the most critical implications for government policy and the socio-economic resilience of the UK, the report presents key findings on:

  • Working lives
  • Lifelong learning
  • Housing and neighbourhoods
  • A central role for families
  • Health and care systems
  • Social, physical and technological connectivity
  • A coherent response to ageing

The report also highlights the potential for new and emerging technologies to change care in the home and community. Capitalising on the opportunity this offers will mean addressing barriers and being sensitive to public concerns around privacy.

Connectivity – the ability to use technology, access services, travel easily and socialise – is a key issue as the population ages, and includes not only physical mobility but also virtual and digital interactions.

Mobility is not just important for practical reasons, but helps to facilitate social networks and promote identity and self-esteem.

Design of the built environment can enable older people to access their neighbourhood and surrounding areas, leading to increased activity levels, better health, and improved quality of life.

Technology can help to provide the solutions to challenges faced by the ageing population, and help to realise the benefits of longer lives.