Assessing the impact of an ageing population and increasing levels of chronic illness and disability.

In Northern Ireland, as in other developed countries, life expectancy is increasing and the population is rapidly ageing. However, official figures show that people in Northern Ireland experience more years of ill health or disability than any other part of the UK. The interplay between longer life and health has introduced the ‘compression of morbidity’ concept of the postponement of chronic disease and disability until later years. However, research conducted on the interplay between disability, health and ageing is limited and achieving a greater understanding of the impact of both an increase in the number and proportion of older people in the population on health and on disability levels is important to inform future policy and the delivery of services.

The state pension age is currently 65 for men and between 60 and 65 for women. By the mid 2030s the state pension age will rise to 68 for both men and women. Population health information is required to comprehensively assess both the proportion of the population that are able to work to the new retirement age and for those that are able to work, what is their healthy life expectancy. The importance of this project is underpinned by the current lack of focus on understanding the relationship between health, disability and age at both a population and sub population level.

This main aims of this research are to:

(i) Generate up-to-date Disability Free life expectancy (DFLE) & Health life expectancy (HLE) figures for Northern Ireland. DFLE is the length of time that an individual can expect to live free from a limiting long standing illness or disability and HLE is the length of time an individual can expect to live in very good or fairly good health;

(ii) produce DFLE & HLE metrics broken down by population sub groups including gender, occupation* and educational attainment.

*Occupation will be calculated for persons under 65

Research Team: Mr John Hughes and Ms Cliona Flynn
Database: NIMS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): NISRA