People aged 65 and over set to double to 1.2m by 2038

Life expectancy in Ireland up nearly 2½ years since 2006, with men living longer than European counterparts

Minister for Health Simon Harris: “These reports help us shape the way we plan our health service.” Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Simon Harris: “These reports help us shape the way we plan our health service.” Photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times

 

The number of people aged 65 and over is set to double to about 1.2 million by 2038 as Irish people live longer, healthier lives.

Life expectancy in Ireland has increased by nearly 2½ years since 2006, with men living longer than their European counterparts.

Women are expected to reach 83.6 years of age while men should live to be 79.9 years, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Health.

Despite the ageing population, there is a 6.9 per cent increase in the number of beds available in long-term care units covered by the nursing homes support scheme, as fewer patients aged between 75 and 85 are admitted.

Life expectancy is higher partly due to the advancement in cancer cures, which has improved survival rates for breast, cervical, colon and rectal cancer.

Furthermore, deaths by stroke and pneumonia have declined by 39 per cent.

Suicides have diminished by more than a quarter since 2008, after the number of men taking their lives spiked between 2008 and 2012.

The suicide rate among Irish men is now lower than the EU average for the first time since 2010.

However, deaths from respiratory diseases, including cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung, are 37.4 percent higher in this country than the EU average.

The number of cases for treating drug use has risen by 42.7 percent in the last decade.

“These reports help us shape the way we plan our health service into the future,” said Minister for Health Simon Harris. “A striking feature is the growth in the number of people aged over 65. Each year this cohort increases by almost 20,000 people. This trend is set to continue and will have implications for future planning and health service delivery.”

While the number of emergency patients on trolleys spiked at the beginning of this year, the number of beds for day cases has risen, as the average hospital stay has shortened.

The number of adults waiting nine months or more for an elective procedure has reduced, while the number of children waiting over eight months has remained stable.

To optimise expenditure, the report suggests using pharmaceutical generics over more expensive branded drugs.

It also highlights a need for Ireland to follow other OECD countries in performing high-volume surgical procedures, such as tonsillectomies, as day cases.