The Welsh Assembly Government has published a state of the nation report on the well-being of older people in Wales. The Older People's Wellbeing Monitor for Wales is a milestone research report that will guide the future work of the Welsh Assembly Government and its partners in planning for the demographic changes in society.

This is the first Wellbeing Monitor of older people in the UK and links into an international agenda as it follows the values of the United Nations Principles for Older People. This will set a benchmark with the Monitor updated every three years.

The Monitor is a report that brings together all the relevant robust research written on older people in Wales and will help to steer future policy and pinpoint evidence gaps for further study. The focus is on five broad aims of well-being which are derived from the UN Principles and the Assembly Government Strategy for Older People and these will provide the mechanism to track progress over time. They are:

- Dignity and social inclusion
- Material wellbeing
- Participation
- Health and care
- Self- fulfilment and active ageing

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, said: "I am delighted to have delivered this key note research report as the Welsh Assembly Government is committed to valuing the lives of the older generation.

This Monitor will provide invaluable information and guidance to steer future policy priorities and research projects for both the Assembly Government and its partners for the benefit of society as a whole. "Older People are a significant and growing sector of the population and it is essential that we have accurate information on the needs of the older person so that we can significantly address these issues.

"This report has implications across all Assembly Government policy areas and my colleagues and I will be studying these findings thoroughly and any areas of concern will be looked into and addressed."

Ruth Marks, Older Peoples Commissioner for Wales, commented: "I welcome this really valuable report. It supports what older people tell me they are most concerned about.

"We must recognise the great contribution older people make to life in Wales. This is the 21st century and attitudes and expectations are changing - we must understand that reality and think long-term when we make decisions and this report will help us to do just that.

"The information we receive from older people underpins my work. This report gives me further evidence about the areas where we all need to work together to improve services.It will help people to plan services for today and for the future when our ageing population will have increased and changing demands. This type of research needs to be regularly repeated to check whether older people are experiencing a positive difference in their lives."

Wendy Bourton OBE, Chair of National Partnership Forum, said: "I welcome the Monitor as it enables us to look at the wellbeing of older people and appreciate the diversity of issues relating to ageing in Wales. Most importantly, it enables us to hear the voices of older people and better understand their lives."

Explaining the importance of the Monitor in the development of policy for older people, Dr Sue Lambert, Co-Director Older People and Ageing Research and Development Network (OPAN) said:" The Older People's Wellbeing Monitor is an excellent, comprehensive resource for researchers in Wales and beyond. It provides vital background information on the circumstances of older people in Wales. Researchers will use it to inform research studies and reports into the quality of life and the experiences of older people living in Wales."

To view the Monitor visit: and


The research for the Wellbeing Monitor has been conducted using a joint model of commissioning and in-house analytical input by researchers, statisticians and economists.

Top Level Findings from the Older People's Wellbeing Monitor (2009)

Older People in Wales: a Demographic Overview

1. Of the UK countries, Wales has the highest proportion of people of state pensionable age (SPA).

2. In 2007, there were 349 people of SPA per 1,000 people of working age. This has been increasing since the 1970s.

3. Net inward migration continues to be the main reason for population growth in Wales. North Wales attracted the largest net inflow of older people from England.

4. In 2007, circulatory disease, cancer and respiratory disease accounted for just over three quarters of deaths of older people.

5. The population aged 85 and over is projected to more than double in size between 2007 and 2031 (to 156,000).

Older People in Wales: Specific Groups

6. 44% of older people in Wales reported having a limiting long-term illness or disability.

7. In 2001 there were around 180,000 older informal carers in Wales.

8. There are approximately 850 Gypsy Traveller caravans in Wales.

9. At the end of June 2009, there were 1,665 asylum seekers supported in accommodation in Wales. Of these 75 were aged 50 and over.

10. People born in the 1920s and 1930s have consistently exhibited, over a very long period, larger improvements in mortality rates than those born in the years either side.

Dignity and Social Inclusion

11. The risk of experiencing crime is lower amongst older people than in younger age groups.

12. Following a decline from the beginning of the decade - around 12% of adults in Wales aged 50 and above now have high levels of worry about burglary, car crime and violent crime.

13. For the period 2005-2007, around 3% of economically inactive people aged 50 and over in Wales believed that there was no job for them.

14. In 2007-08, most adult abuse referrals concerned people aged 65 and over - of this group almost two thirds were women. Physical abuse was the most common type of reported abuse - at 32% of all cases.

15. Older people in Wales are more likely to feel part of their community than younger people.

Independence and Material Wellbeing

16. Around 64% of people aged 60 and over had a full driving licence in 2007/08, an increase from 45% in the mid-1990s.

17. The state of repair and fitness of the housing headed by older people is a little worse than others.

18. Many older people need housing adaptations, particularly grab rails, showers to replace baths and stairlifts, but few have them.

19. The employment rate among those aged 50 to state pension age has risen steadily in Wales from 56.8% in 1996 to 65.8% in 2008.

20. Around one in five households containing someone aged 60 or older is fuel poor - twice the rate for all households.


21. Participation in politics and decision making is more prevalent among older people. This is especially true of voting patterns.

22. Older people are more likely to show an interest in politics than younger people and are generally more aware of political issues and constitutional affairs.

23. Participation in interest groups and civic movements tends to diminish with age, with the 'oldest' old less likely to express their views or be politically active.

24. In 2007, those aged between 45 and 79 were the most likely to have volunteered in Wales (29%). For those aged 80 and over this was 12%.

Health and Care

25. Self-reported physical health among older people gets steadily worse as they get older. There is no clear age pattern for self-reported mental health.

26. The proportion of people reporting hearing or sight difficulties increases with age. Four in ten people aged 70 and over report hearing problems, while one in 10 report eyesight problems.

27. The most common illnesses which older people report being treated for are high blood pressure, arthritis, heart conditions and respiratory conditions.

28. Although smoking prevalence falls with age, three in 10 older men and two in 10 older women smoke.

29. The proportion of people who are overweight or obese increases with age, peaking between the ages of 50 and 69, decreasing for those aged 70 and over.

30. 27% of older people reported attending hospital as an outpatient during the last 3 months, and 12% as an inpatient during the last 12 months.

31. Around 64,000 people received community based services, to help them live at home independently for the year ending 31 March 2007.

Self-fulfilment and Active Ageing

32. Two out of 5 (43%) older people have undertaken some form of learning during the previous 12 months.

33. Older women than men take part in learning activities.

34. Older people are least likely to own a computer, use the internet at home and have broadband access. For those aged 80 and over, 17% have a home computer and 12% access the internet at home.

35. 29% of people aged 65 and over participate in artistic activity once a year or more.

36. Religious affiliation is higher for older age groups (95% of those aged 75 and over).

37. At 65, older people in Wales have shorter disability free and healthy life expectancies than the average for the UK.

38. One in four older men and one in six older women take the recommended amount of physical activity.

Welsh Assembly Government

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