Christians on Ageing – Written evidence (INQ0015)


The fact that people in this country are living longer is unquestioned, but the suggestion that life in the added years is life with disability and suffering (backed by a report from the King’s Fund, is at odds with figures from the ONS. Their report on Health Expectations at birth and at 65 years in the United Kingdom shows increased life expectation and reduced periods spent in ‘not good health’ in Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the decade 2000-2002 to 2009-11


This is important because it challenges the myth of gloom which would have it that what is being achieved is medicated survival at the cost of suffering to individuals and to the public purse.


A great deal of the improvement in life expectation and quality of life at all ages, can be traced to improvements in the environment in which people live, rather than particular technological advances.


Further improvements in both healthy life years and total years lived will be achieved with most certainty by taking advantage of this learning – most obviously illustrated by the reduction in incidence of dementia in those sections of the population of Cambridge, Nottingham and Newcastle where people are better off than they were, but has fallen where there is unemployment and poverty.


Thus we would encourage a continuation in measures to improve education, advice on diet and exercise, and prudent use of advances in medicine. But we would emphasise the benefits which will come from ‘levelling up’ the quality of life available to the poorest and most vulnerable to that of the better off.


This will require: continuing education, taxation which redistributes wealth to achieve something nearer equality, employment policies which give greater security and terms and conditions, housing which is affordable to ordinary people, and support for community activities which help families to work together across the generations. This includes the faith communities


16 September 2019