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BBC Living Longer: examining our aging population
By Linda Walker
BBC Suffolk

From Sunday 7 November, BBC Suffolk is examining the economic and social impact of an ageing population.

The post-war baby boom of the 1940s means 25% of the population will be 65 or older by 2031.

The BBC will be looking at the various concerns that living longer brings, including the cost of care, the impact on families and the role of the NHS.

We will be telling the stories of older people in the county and addressing some key themes.

Alan and Christine
Alan has been caring for Christine since 1997

Alan has been the main carer for his wife Christine since 1997 when he gave up being a headteacher at the age of 47.

Christine was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the age of 34 and Alan believes there is not enough help for people providing this sort of dedicated care.

"I always think of myself and my wife at the bottom of an inverted pyramid, almost like a job creation scheme," said Alan.

"There's social care, the department for social security, all of them take money out of the system because there are people like us, but the money that gravitates down towards us is very little."

The Family
Mark and Jo Wilson
Mark has been caring his mother Jo for seven years

There are an estimated 98,000 family carers in Suffolk providing vital support and easing pressure on social care services.

Now a full-time carer, Mark Wilson has been caring for his mother Jo for seven years.

After suffering a series of strokes, Jo is now unable to communicate freely with Mark and needs full time support with feeding and personal care.

As an only child, Mark felt his best course of action was to care for Jo at home and to try and repay the care she gave him as a child.

"At home here I get a smile and there are moments when she tries to say something.

"There's a connection and I do get something back."

Esther Gadsby
90 year old Esther has used the Saxmundham Instant Care scheme

As part of proposed changes to the NHS, GPs will be given much more responsibility for spending the budget and hospitals are to be set free from central control.

As the NHS is faced with meeting the needs of an ageing population doctors in Saxmundham are already developing their own commissioning strategy to offer an alternative to hospital care for some older patients.

Dr Havard and his team developed the Instant Care scheme to put a live-in professional carer into the home of a vulnerable patient for 72 hours at a cost of £370.

They say this compares with a figure of up to £2,500, which is what an acute hospital admission would cost.

Work and Pensions
Tony Whattling
Tony Whattling has been running his village shop for almost 60 years

As the government makes plans to scrap the default retirement age in the UK from October 2011 more and more of us will be working long past our retirement years.

At 85 years old Tony Whattling has been running the Westhall post office and stores for almost 60 years. He loves being part of the community and offering an important service to local residents.

"I realised that if I went the village shop would go and the people around here, I've seen most of them grow up from babies," said Tony.

Living Longer will be covered on BBC Radio Suffolk for the week beginning Sunday, 7 November, 2010.

You can Listen Live or Listen Again on the BBC iPlayer .

Living Longer


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