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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Living Longer: Kent's baby boomers

The BBC's Living Longer project, 7-12 November, examines the implications of a society that is living longer - the benefits and challenges.

The first of the baby boomer generation reaches 65 next year and over the next 20 years a quarter of the population will be over 65 and the number of people over 85 will have doubled.

BBC Kent is looking at some of the consequences of living longer and highlighting the experiences of some elderly people today, their family and the people who provide services for them.

Haris Patel

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Haris shows us his telehealth equipment

For Haris Patel from Lyminge infirmity came early in his life, but technology and joined up thinking has helped him stay independent.

He was issued with telehealth, which measures Haris's vital signs, and send the results down the phone line to a health centre, who can flag up any problems with medical staff.

Before telehealth, Haris was spending up to eight months a year in in hospital, since the installation of the technology, Haris has spent only four weeks in hospital.

Iris

Hands

Even now, before the predicted increase in the numbers older people, almost one person in seven over the age of 65 provides care for someone else. One such person is 73 year-old Iris from Rainham who explains that sometimes the cost of care can be difficult to meet.

She has rheumatoid arthritis and struggles to do housework and dress herself. She is on eight painkillers per day.

Iris is also the carer for her daughter Amanda, who is so disabled cannot support herself in any way.

Christine

Family

The number of children looking after their parents is on the increase, as is the so-called sandwich carers - those looking after their parents at home while bringing up children. Christine, 53, does just that in Longfield.

Christine has had to spend most of her savings to make her home suitable for elderly mother. The family has also had to sacrifice space, money and time. She feels that her children are suffering because she cannot devote as much time as she would like to them.

Suman Sanjay

Elderly people in hospital

The increase in the number of elderly will increasingly put pressure on the NHS too. One of the common problems is an older person being admitted to hospital, being cured but not being able to go back home because they need some form of social care.

Medway Maritime Hospital consultant geriatrician Suman Sanjay explains the dilemmas and challenges faced by those discharging patients from hospital.

He feels that more multi-agency teams may be the answer and the "artificial divides" between health care and social care budgets need be removed over time.

Linsey Gonzalez

Job centre

As we all now know living longer means working longer. The retirement age for both men and women will be rising to 66 and maybe even older in the future.

Linsey Gonzalez, 58, from Gillingham was a teaching assistant until last year when the first of the spending cuts began to bite and she was made redundant.

She worries about getting a new job, and thinks potential employers are discriminating against her because of her age. She remains hopeful, and is taking courses to improve her prospects.


Living Longer

In addition to telling the stories of older people in Kent, the Living Longer campaign will also explore the issues which will become increasingly pressing as we live longer lives.

Who should pay for social care for the elderly in the future? What will you do if you or your partner cannot look after yourselves during retirement?

What will it mean to voluntary organisations and faith groups who already do much for elderly people?

BBC Radio Kent will investigate these and many other questions during Living Longer, a BBC campaign from 7-12 November.





Living Longer





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