Older people are increasingly unhealthy due to a poor diet and lack of exercise caused by poor incomes, according to an Age Concern report published today.
Many over 65s are too unfit to walk even the shortest distances, leaving them at risk of falls and heart disease and destroying their independence, the charity warns.
* The minimum weekly cost of a recommended healthy diet for people over 65 is £32.30. Yet people on lower incomes are only spending £23.40.
* 21 per cent of people over 65 cannot walk 200 metres easily.
• Only 17 per cent of people over 60 say they keep fit.
• Up to 30 per cent of 65-74 year-old men and women are obese.
“While younger generations are increasingly encouraged to lead healthier lifestyles, the health needs of older people have been routinely overlooked,” said Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern.
“Inadequate income clearly has a major impact on the health of the nation’s people in later life, but urgent action to tackle barriers, such as poor health awareness and access to health and leisure facilities, is also needed,”
The charity is calling for:
*An urgent review of pension and benefits to make sure all older people can afford to live healthily.
*Local authorities to provide accessible and affordable leisure activities, close to where older people live.
*Older people to be involved in the planning of new services, so their health needs are taken into account.
*Health information to be targeted at older people, focusing on the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise in later life.
*Transport should take full account of the needs of older people, especially those living in rural areas. Older people must have good access to health services, shops and leisure facilities.