Warning as older population set to soar

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THE number of Borders households headed by someone aged 75 or over is set to rocket by a staggering 103 per cent over the next 30 years, according to figures just released by the Scottish Government.

The statistics were contained in a joint blueprint from Government ministers along with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and Age Scotland which looks 10 years into the future.

The organisations stressed that the Borders’ growing older population must be treated with “dignity and respect” in their own homes.

The number of households headed by someone aged 75 or over in the region is projected to rise to 15,190 by 2033 and the new nationwide blueprint – entitled The Older People’s Housing Strategy – underlines the importance of supporting people to remain at home independently for as long as possible, rather than premature or inappropriate admissions to care homes or hospitals.

It aims to promote a range of housing and support services, enabling older people to choose the services which are best for them, with a key focus on preventative services that are crucial in helping to reduce accidents and emergency hospital admissions.

Singling out the Borders when speaking at the launch of the new report this week, Housing Minister Keith Brown said the hallmark of a civilised nation was the way in which it treated its older citizens. “The Scottish Borders older people have made, and continue to make, an invaluable contribution to our society,” he said. “They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their old age.

“This national strategy sets out our vision for housing and support for older people, along with a framework for delivery.

“It aims to help older people in the Scottish Borders to live independently, comfortably and safely at home in their communities where they are valued as an asset and their voices are heard.

“The vast majority of older people will continue to live in mainstream housing.

“However, there is still a vital role for providers of sheltered housing and extra care housing in reaching out to support older people in the wider community

“Against this demographic backdrop, we face the most challenging financial situation since devolution, with a cut of 12 per cent in real terms to the Scottish Government’s budget, and 32 per cent in the capital budget by 2014-15.

“It is therefore important to invest resources wisely in housing, social care and health. This new strategy has been developed in partnership with Cosla.

“We will work together to deliver the best housing- based solutions for our older people.”

Cosla spokesperson for housing, Councillor Harry McGuigan said older people had consistently told local authorities that they want to remain at home, as they age.

“This strategy is a major step towards putting in place the right services that allow people to remain at home and giving older people the choices they need, to live the best lives possible,” he said.

“Older people may be the ones who benefit most directly from this strategy, but if we can achieve its aims, we will all – as a community and of whatever age – benefit in the long term.”