Places and infrastructure must be adapted to support an ageing population, particularly in rural areas, according to England's chief medical officer.
In his annual report, Professor Chris Whitty focussed on how to maximise the independence of older people and minimise their time in ill health.
The report argues that efforts should focus on ‘more rural, coastal and other peripheral areas’, which have larger elderly populations and ‘relatively sparse services’.
It says transport, access to places of leisure and exercise, and housing must be improved in these areas to enable older people to retain their independence.
Professor Whitty said much of the housing stock is designed for younger families, and stressed the benefits of planning for an ageing population now rather than trying to retrofit later.
He also called for an acceleration of research in areas such as social care and frailty in older age, and ageing in ethnic minority populations.
The chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, David Fothergill, said: ‘We fully support the conclusions of this helpful annual report and councils remain committed to ensuring that older people live independent and fulfilling lives.
‘So many of the factors influencing older people’s wellbeing fall within the purview of local government, be it housing, transport or green spaces to name a few.
‘With the right funding, councils – working with their local partners – can play a key role in helping to turn around the issues identified in this report.’