OUR ageing population represents one of the biggest challenges facing Sefton’s health services.
With the over 65 population set to rise by more than 40% by 2035, the cost of caring for the elderly is set to rocket.
According to the report, this will not just affect our health services but will also place greater strain on families desperate to care for elderly relatives.
Population forecasts anticipate a rise of 5% in the amount of people living in our borough.
With more than one in five people living in Sefton currently over 65 the borough already has one of the highest proportions of older residents in the country. This number is expected to rise by more than 40% to 83,000 over the next 23 years.
As a result, the problems facing health services are stark.
Dr Atherton writes in the report: “In five years, Sefton’s ageing population could mean 5,300 more people with hypertension (high blood pressure) and 2,200 with CHD (Coronary Heart Disease). Levels of dementia and stroke will also rise.”
Older people living in poverty are also causing concern for the local health services.
The worst hit areas for over 65s living in poverty are in the south and central Southport, with Ainsdale, Manor and Norwood wards the most affected. Caring for the growing numbers of old people presents a huge challenge, with the amount of people receiving direct payments for social care increasing.
Households requiring intensive home care are also on the rise and there are potentially 6,600 carers aged over 65 in Sefton.
Cancer rates are also a serious issue for the borough’s adult population, with cancer one of the largest causes of death in Sefton.
In a bid to find cancer victims and treat them before the disease becomes life threatening, extensions to the screening process are planned.
Dr Atherton explains screening is “part of a three-pronged approach – prevention, early detection (identifying symptoms) and screening to reduce cervical, breast and bowel cancer.”
An extension to screening programmes is planned to combat breast cancer after 235 cases were detected in Sefton in the past three years.
Dr Atherton said: “Breast screening can show breast cancers at an early stage, when they are too small for a woman or her doctor to see or feel. All women aged between 50 and 70 years are invited for a mammogram every three years. This is currently being extended to women aged 47-49 years and 71-73 years.”
By 2014 bowel cancer screening will also be offered every two years to people aged between 60 and 74. Screening is currently offered every two years to those aged 60-69.
From next spring screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms is also due to start for men aged 65.