A Public Health England report has summarised recent trends in older age and provides some context for those trying to assess the significance of recent apparent changes.
It confirms an overall upward trend in life expectancy in this age group in England since the early 1980s.
Key points from the report include:
- Within England as a whole, life expectancy for both sexes at ages 65, 75, 85 and 95 increased between 2013 and 2014. This follows falls in life expectancy at some older ages between 2011 and 2012.
- The 2014 life expectancy figures for England are the highest ever recorded at nearly all these ages. However, despite the rise in female life expectancy at age 85 in 2014, it is still at the same level as in 2011.
- In all but one region of England, male and female life expectancy at age 65 increased between 2013 and 2014 and is higher in 2014 than in any other year presented. The exception is the North East, where male life expectancy was highest in 2013.
- In most regions, male and female life expectancy at age 85 increased between 2013 and 2014. The exceptions are male life expectancy in the North East and East of England, which remained stable between 2013 and 2014. Despite these increases, male life expectancy at age 85 is still lower in 2014 than in 2011 in the North West. For females at age 85, it is lower in 2014 than 2011 in the West Midlands.
- There is more variability in life expectancy at older ages among local authorities. For example, 63% of lower tier and unitary local authorities in England had an increase in male life expectancy at 65 years between 2011-13 and 2012-14 (the most recent time points), and 49% had an increase in female life expectancy at this age. However, 21% of lower tier and unitary local authorities had a fall in male life expectancy at 65 years, and 28% had a fall in female life expectancy at this age, although in half of areas the fall is only 0.1 years.
- Between 2012 and 2013 almost all countries in the EU had an increase in life expectancy at older ages (2014 data are not yet available for all EU countries). UK male life expectancy increased at ages 65, 75 and 85, as did female life expectancy at age 75. The rise in the UK was smaller than the EU average rise in all these age groups, except males aged 85.
The full report can be accessed on the Public Health England website here.