“It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.” – Adlai E. Stevenson
The growing ageing population is a challenge that faces all of us in today’s society. The reality is that we are all living longer – 15,000 centenarians live in the UK, and 10million of us can now expect to live to our 100th birthday.
This is having a profound impact on us both as individuals and collectively. As a society, we need to think about not just ageing, but ageing well and how we can live independently for as long as possible.
The modern challenges of the ageing population affects all aspects of our lives – from work and finances, to health and environment. This is an opportunity to work together to empower our families and communities to remain active and connected in the face of these changes.
In recognition of this, this week my colleague Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced a new £98million fund that will help provide a vital boost in the development of the healthcare innovations and technologies of tomorrow.
Setting ourselves an ambitious Industrial Strategy like this will not only boost our productivity, but will help to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of the technological revolution around ageing. By creating new job opportunities and empowering carers and family members, this will help us all to live happier, more independent lives.
We live in an exciting time, where technological possibilities are becoming a reality – already the power of smart homes and voice recognition is transforming the way we all live, and helping people to regain their independence. Advances such as autonomous vehicles and AI are just a few examples of the number of opportunities we have to adjust simple things in our lives to make a real difference. Beyond this, by adapting the way we think about everyday products and services that we use, we can support entrepreneurs and creative talents to consider their application to wider public services such as health and social care.
Of all the challenges that an ageing population presents, dementia is perhaps one of the most profound, affecting an estimated 850,000 people in the UK alone. The Government recognises the devastating impact that this disease can have on people and their loved ones, and has therefore made research in this area a priority.
That is why I’m delighted that today, alongside the funding for innovations, we are also committing an extra £40million for the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) via the Medical Research Council. This will fund a new building in partnership with University College London, which will host 350 leading scientists, researching vital new treatments that will improve the lives of millions of people.
Already the UK DRI has received £150million in government funding and £100million from Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, all of which will help to meet the Prime Minister’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia.
We will continue striving to be the best country in the world to live with dementia, and these investments will help to support that. It is initiatives such as these that will ensure that we live in a society in which a high quality of life and independent living can be shared by all.
Caroline Dinenage is the Conservative MP for Gosport and care minister