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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 16:43 GMT
Grey generation is growing
Elderly lady close up in an old peoples home.
Health and pensions are core issues for the elderly
Wales is becoming a greyer nation, with four out of 10 people middle aged or of retirement age.

The 2001 census for Wales reveals a steady increase in the "grey generation" and mounting concerns that key issues are not being addressed.

Help the Aged in Wales says councils and health authorities are having to adapt their policies and budgets to meet the demand on care and facilities.

Ageing Wales
2001 census: 42% of the population are aged over 45 (middle aged)
Numbers of pensioners to rise by 11% by 2022
Number of those aged 85+ to rise by third by 2020
As many people in their 60s as in their 20s and 30s by 2020
People will progressively live longer
Challenge to provide more care

In Conwy, which includes coastal retirement resorts such as Llandudno, the number of people over retirement age is 6% higher than the average for Wales (20.7%).

Barrie Cooper, 67, represents pensioners interests through Age Alliance Wales, which acts as a "sounding board" for the Welsh Assembly, which recently launched its own strategy for the elderly in Wales.

On a daily basis, Mr Cooper fields concerns and inquiries from senior citizens worried about residential care, the state of their pensions, age discrimination, health care and transport problems.

"There are a lot of ladies in my area living on their own. One lady's husband has ended up going to hospital for treatment and he has been allocated a place in a nursing home, but he is waiting for someone there to die," said Mr Cooper.

Barrie Cooper, Age Alliance Wales
Barrie Cooper: 'Quality of life'

"In the meantime, he is blocking a health service bed.

"Residential homes are closing down everywhere - one in the Gower has been knocked down recently to become flats.

"And the state of pensions are at the heart of everything. People want to maintain their independence and be part of society and if they cannot have a decent quality of life, they feel excluded."

A society is judged by the way it looks after its elderly people

David Lloyd George

Mr Cooper said the next generation of elderly people - currently in their 40s and 50s - would probably be more questioning and demanding of services.

"There is still a generation left that is very grateful and humble, but those coming through do not always accept the first thing they are told or offered."

He added: "People do not stop being useful at retirement age; they have a brain and are still able to contribute to society."

Help the Aged in Wales has welcomed assembly initiatives such as free bus passes for the elderly, but is now pressing for other changes to improve the quality of life.

"We are saying ministers need to take more notice of the fact the population is getting older and should be influencing policy-making,"

Help the Aged in Wales said without community, voluntary-run bus schemes, many elderly people in rural and some urban areas would be stuck for getting about.

Key stories


UK breakdown


See also:

14 Feb 03 | Wales
16 May 02 | Wales
20 Feb 02 | Health
05 Nov 01 | Health
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