The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, published his annual report for 2023, Health in an Ageing Society. We welcome his decision to make the health of our ageing population his focus. The report highlights the need for innovative new practices and policies to improve the quality of life for older people and people of all age groups, who are arguably in training for their old age.
People are living longer and, by 2050, a quarter of those in the UK will be over 65, but Sir Chris feels it should not be accepted that these extra years will be spent in ill health.
The focus of the report is on how to maximise the independence, and minimise the time in ill health, between people in England reaching older age and the end of their life. The two routes to increasing independence are to reduce disease and to change the environment. The impact of our rapidly ageing population is one of the key motivations for founding our new charity, Intergenerational England. We believe as a nation, it is crucial to think cross generationally if we are to work towards maximising independence and minimise the time in ill health. By encouraging stronger, more connected societies we aim to change the environment in which older people live. Intergenerational England aims to tackle many of the challenges we face as an ageing population, including mental and physical health issues, loneliness, ageism unemployment and shortage of appropriate housing.
Amongst Sir Chris Whitty’s recommendations are exercising, having mental stimulation and a social network. Intergenerational contact and programmes are well placed to help in these areas. The report also says, we must take a preventative approach to tackling socially-determined ill health in the first place, thereby alleviating pressures on the health service later down the line and improving the quality of life in old age.
By bringing together expertise and resources from key organisations working to support the health, education, wellbeing, and housing needs of people of all ages across England including Age UK, What Works Wellbeing, Care England, The Co-op, Clarion Housing, HACT, Flourishing Lives, Age Irrelevance and Connecting Generations, Intergenerational England is the first national body to share best practices, research, and innovation in intergenerational practice.
Intergenerational England will:
Combine cross sector expertise and resources
Champion and provide guidance for the development of government policy & initiatives
Advocate and campaign for more intergenerational thinking
Centralize research & analysis
Unlock and signpost towards funding
Generations need to come together to improve the quality of life not just for older people, but to take action now so that younger people can look forward to growing old and still living healthy, independent lives.