Older people: key points

  • Scotland’s population, like that of the UK, is ageing.
  • Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are increasing for both men and women, but so is the length of time spent in ill-health.
  • Increasing life expectancy and years spent in ill-health mean that the proportion of the population dependent on carers is increasing.
  • The prevalence and incidence of most health conditions rises with increasing age (e.g. cancer, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes).
  • Causes of death change with increasing age. Cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease cause a higher proportion of mortality in older people than in younger people. 
  • Pensioner poverty, a key determinant of ill-health and life expectancy, has decreased overall in the last two decades but has changed little in the last 5 years.
  • Healthcare associated infections are a particular health risk for older people since they have higher hospital admission rates.
  • Dementia is more common in older people and, with an aging population, we are likely to see an upward trend in the number of people with dementia.

Section updates:

  • This last major update of this section was completed in September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end September 2018.