Challenges ahead as retirement numbers set to soar

THE number of Suffolk people hitting retirement age will soar by nearly a quarter in just two years.

New figures have revealed 3,100 people in mid-Suffolk will hit 65 in 2012 – a 24% rise on this year’s numbers.

It is a similar picture throughout the county as the first wave of the baby-boomer generation turns 65.

Suffolk Coastal is predicted to see a 20% rise, Barbergh 21 and Ipswich 17.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County Council expects the number of people over 65 suffering from dementia will double in 20 years, from 10,388 this year to 19,934 by 2030.

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Daphne Savage, Suffolk’s head of Age UK, said these were “hugely challenging times” for the county council given it is facing such significant funding cuts.

She said: “In all the time I have worked with the local authority, the cuts have never been to this extent and at this pace.”

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But she said longer life expectancy would mean the baby boomers now hitting retirement age would not need care for 15 or 20 years. She said she hoped such people would volunteer to support older people in their communities, like The Debenham Project does.

Lynden Jackson, chairman of the dementia charity, said: “Because of this demographic explosion, there is going to be increasing numbers of people who are caring for people with the symptoms of dementia.

“Our feeling is to do this successfully, it needs a significant new approach primarily focused on the local community.”

Colin Noble, portfolio holder for adult and community services at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are not just running around with our head in our hands, we have got to accept the reality of life and that the cuts are coming.

“We have to look at how we work with our communities to deliver more for less.”

Dr Daniel Poulter, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich, said tackling the issue was a “top priority”.

He said: “The challenge of an ageing population is right up there as the top national priority, alongside putting the economy back on track. We have got to grasp the nettle on this and take action before it is too late.”

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