Profile: older people

A look at the different aspects of life for older people in Northern Ireland.

 

The recent ‘A profile of older people in Northern Ireland’ report showed that the number of older people in society is increasing with one in four people predicted to be over 65 years of age by 2039. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of older people increased by 2.4 per cent to a total of 285,900. In the decade between 2004 and 2014, the older population increased by 23.1 per cent – this growth rate was three times higher than for the population as a whole.

Between 2013 and 2014, the very elderly population (aged 85 and over) increased by 3.3 per cent to 34,400. In the longer term, between 2004 and 2014, the population of this age group increased by almost half (41 per cent). This growth rate is five times greater than that of the overall population. The very elderly population is projected to more than double between 2014 and 2039, jumping from 34,400 to 88,600 people.

The number of older people is projected to increase sharply by 74.4 per cent between 2014 and 2039 to comprise a quarter of the overall population. Currently, older people made up 15.5 per cent of the population in 2014 and 11.2 per cent in 1974.

In 2014-15, 69 per cent of those aged over 75 had a long-term illness. This is in comparison to 61 per cent of those aged 65-74; 47 per cent of those aged 45-64 and 25 per cent of those aged 16-44. In 2014-15, 58 per cent of people over 75 and 38 per cent of those aged between 65 and 74 had mobility difficulties, compared to one fifth of those aged 16 and over. In 2015 there were 221 residential homes for elderly people in Northern Ireland, with an average of 2,768 available places. In 2015, there were 9,959 care packages in effect, 7,228 of these were nursing home care packages. The vast majority (90.9 per cent) of care packages were provided for by the private sector.

Older people had the lowest access to the internet of all age groups; 69 per cent of 60-69 year olds and 40 per cent of those aged over 70 were online. In 2014-15, 82 per cent of older people owned a mobile phone – a considerable increase from 6 per cent between 1990 and 2000. 9 per cent of older people were economically active in Q3 2015. 38 per cent of those over 60 years of age had difficulty with travel due to their health between 2011 and 2013, compared to 6 per cent of 16-29 year olds.

16 per cent of pensioners in Northern Ireland were living in relative poverty in 2013-14. 43 per cent of pensioners had no occupation or personal pension provision. In terms of housing, 84 per cent of low-income pensioners owned their house outright (compared to 75 per cent of all pensioners), 9 per cent lived in Northern Ireland Housing Executive or housing association accommodation (compared to 15 per cent of all pensioners), 5 per cent privately rented (compared to 6 per cent of all pensioners), and 2 per cent owned their house with a mortgage.

Households headed by older people were more likely to be living in fuel poverty than other households in 2011. 66.3 per cent of older people were living in fuel poverty. During the same period 52 per cent of the 60 to 74 age group were experiencing fuel poverty.

5.8 per cent of those aged 60 and over perceived anti-social behaviour to be a high level in their area between 2013 and 2014. 29.4 per cent of older people stated that a fear of crime had an impact on their quality of life. 16.4 per cent of older people were more likely to worry about burglary.

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