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More services needed for pensioners

PUBLISHED: 05:44 22 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

By Liz Hearnshaw

THE growing elderly population of west Suffolk could place already-stretched resources under even more pressure, experts have warned.

By Liz Hearnshaw

THE growing elderly population of west Suffolk could place already-stretched resources under even more pressure, experts have warned.

Charity workers and councillors said more must be done to create an infrastructure capable of providing for the increasing numbers of pensioners throughout the county, both now and in the future.

An increase in life expectancy has seen Suffolk's ageing population rise, while young people have apparently begun deserting the county due to soaring house prices.

Last year's census revealed almost 20% of the population living in the Forest Heath district were aged 60 or above - a picture repeated in the neighbouring St Edmundsbury borough, where more than one fifth of the borough's 98,170 residents are in the same age bracket.

Steve Richards, who serves on Forest Heath District Council and is chairman of the local health forum, said: “I think this will have very serious repercussions in the near future.

“The infrastructure to support our growing elderly population must be improved. As people are getting older, demand is rising for local village clubs, but these seem to be virtually non-existent now.

“Recently, there are fewer facilities for people and added to this come all the health problems. There is also a need for day care services, like the centre in Newmarket, for those not needing specialised care.”

Daphne Savage, of Age Concern Suffolk, said although the charity was masterminding a day care centre project in Bury St Edmunds, more centres were needed within west Suffolk to cater for increasing demand.

“I would agree with many of these concerns and these views are confirmed by the opinions of local senior citizens we have collected during events we held last year,” she added.

“Transport is a major issue in rural Suffolk and lack of public transport can mean that even active seniors, without their own car, feel very restricted.

“With few villages having their own shop, post office, doctor's surgery and so on, this can turn simple daily needs into significant problems.

“We have also lost a lot of beds through residential and nursing care home closures in Suffolk and there needs to be significant investment in high-quality homes for senior citizens to meet current and future needs.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk


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