How to make Suffolk a better place for older people to live will the key topic for debate at a major conference to be held in Ipswich tomorrow.
Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board is hosting the ‘Suffolk Ageing Well’ event to help prepare the county for significant growth in the number of older people in the next decade.
By 2020, 24% of the Suffolk population will be over 65 with 4% aged 85 or more. There is concern that this will inevitably lead to more demand for health and social care - something that will need to be planned for if older people are going to get the care and support they deserve.
The event, which will include a keynote speech from broadcast journalist and local man Stuart Jarrold, will look at a wide range of factors that affect older people, including:
Housing and access to green spaces.
Good quality pavements and safe streets.
Local social activities and being able to have a say in local decisions.
Reliable and accessible information, advice and public transport.
Local shops and public services within easy reach.
Councillor Joanna Spicer, chairman of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Being older doesn’t have to mean dependency on other people and public services, as long as the right support is there in the first place.
“Older people constantly tell us that they want to remain healthy and independent for as long as possible. They want to live in communities that cater for their age, meet their basic needs in terms of housing, transport and shops and provide opportunities for making the most of their health and wellbeing.
“The challenge for Suffolk is to create a county in which older people can enjoy a good quality of life, be active and independent and live in safe, supportive communities that value their experience and the contribution they can make.
“This conference is about finding out what works, and what doesn’t, and sharing best practice so that more older people in Suffolk can benefit.”
The conference will bring together councillors, the voluntary and community sector, health and care service designers and commissioners and independent health and care providers - all people who can influence future developments of Suffolk.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Stuart Jarrold said: “I will be giving my own personal perspective of what life is like for an older person living in a rural area and what we do in our local community to help, encourage and involve older people to lead a fulfilling life.”