Ground-breaking study reveals older people’s rising fears about safety and isolation
Wales’ only charity focused on ending the abuse and neglect of older people have today (05/12) launched the first-ever Safer Ageing Index for the nation.
Amongst the key findings, released by Hourglass Cymru, is that older people feel less safe in their communities. Another stat reveals that loneliness and isolation is up almost 19% (18.75%). The Safer Ageing Index uses a variety of measures to assess the level of policy, public sector and movements within the assembly and other actions towards creating a safer ageing society in Wales.
This is the second such Safer Ageing Index published by Hourglass, the first being the Northern Ireland Index published in 2022.
Safer Ageing Index Wales
This ground-breaking report examines just how safe it is to age in Wales in 2023 and is a launch pad for a debate on how we can make investments in ensuring we can all age free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Some of the key findings from our research in Wales are:
- Feelings of safety in their local area after dark have declined since 2018-19 for both 65–74-year-olds and over 75s.
- The number of people over 75 who have experienced loneliness and isolation since 2017-18 has increased by 18.75%.
- Rates of relative income poverty in Wales increase with age with 16% of 65-69-year-olds and 19% of 70-79-year-olds living in relative income poverty.
Over one-fifth (21.3%) of the Welsh population in 2021 were aged 65 and over, up from 18.4% in 2011. With an ageing population it is crucial that there are policies and a strategy in place to ensure older people can grow old safely in Wales.
The Wales Safer Ageing Index has been produced with only limited data when compared to the Northern Ireland Index. The study suggests lessons can be learnt by the Welsh Government and Police forces from Northern Ireland in regards to collecting data on crime and older people.
This Index will be published a week before the Welsh Government publishes its new policy position on tackling abuse of older people. Hourglass has provided input into this policy based on findings from this and earlier research and policy papers.
Richard Robinson, CEO of Hourglass, said:
“This index echoes the urgency for cohesive policies and concerted efforts to safeguard the wellbeing of our older population. By shedding light on critical areas like safety, loneliness, and income disparity, we pave the way for informed strategies that foster a secure and inclusive environment for older people in Wales. Together, we need to forge a future where ageing is synonymous with dignity, security, and unwavering support.”
“The next obvious step is for politicians and other influencers to start planning for a safer ageing society. The population of older people in Wales is only going one way and concerted efforts, dialogue and innovative thinking now can make that societal pledge a reality.”
Baroness Anita Gale, Hourglass Patron, said:
“The publication of the Wales Safer Ageing Index is a pivotal moment highlighting the imperative need for comprehensive strategies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our older citizens across Wales. The findings underscore the challenges faced by our ageing population, emphasizing the decline in feelings of safety, the alarming rise in loneliness among the elderly, and the prevalence of income poverty among specific age groups. Let us harness this Index as a catalyst for change.”
Stephen Burke, CEO of Hallmark Foundation which funded the research, said:
“This ground-breaking study highlights the urgent need to make Wales a safer and better place to grow old in. It’s disturbing that an increasing number of older people experience isolation and loneliness and feel less safe and secure. Policymakers and public services must address these issues urgently so our ageing population not only lives longer but also better.”