Older people: statistics

The UK population is ageing rapidly, with the number of people aged 65 and over growing by nearly half in the past 30 years. People living longer is a cause for celebration, but older people are more vulnerable to mental health problems.

We broadly define 'later life' as starting at 50 years. While we acknowledge that many people this age do not consider themselves 'old', we have included 50-year-olds as part of later life due to several critical factors. Many people will begin to experience physical decline or deterioration in their 50s, and many begin to seriously plan for their retirement, take early retirement or find it difficult to secure employment.

Graphic of stats about older people
  • Since 1974, the number and proportion of older people in the UK population (aged 65 and older) have grown by 47%, making up nearly 18% of the total population in 2014. The number of people aged 75 and over has increased by 89% over this period and now makes up 8% of the population.1
  • Depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over2, yet it is estimated that 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS.3
  • It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia worldwide is 44 million, and this is predicted to double by 2030.4
  • It has been estimated that the total cost of dementia in the UK is £26.3 billion, with an average cost of £32,250 per person.5

Browse all of the mental health statistics

Our 2016 study 'The Fundamental Facts about Mental Health' follows a comprehensive summary of mental health research, providing a unique handbook of key facts and figures covering all key areas of mental health.
Find out more

Later life: A-Z Topics

Find out more about what affects our mental health with our A-Z Topics.
Find out more
Photo of two older men laughing together


  1. Office for National Statistics, (2015). Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mid-2014 - ONS. [online] Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/populationestimates-for-uk--england-and-wales--scotland-and-northern-ireland/mid-2014/index.html [Accessed 25 Aug. 2015].
  2. Health and Social Care Information Centre, (2007). Health Survey for England, 2005: Health of Older People. [online] Available at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/hse05olderpeople [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].
  3. Smyth, C, (2014). Depression in old age ‘is the next big health crisis’. The Times. [online] Available at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article4057224.ece [Accessed 15 Sep. 2015].
  4. Prince M, Albanese E, Guerchet M, Prina M. (2014). World Alzheimer’s Report, Dementia and Risk Reduction - An analysis of protective and modifiable factors. London, England: Alzheimer’s Disease International.
  5. Prince M, Knapp M, Guerchet M, McCrone P, Prina M, Comas-Herrera A, Wittenberg R, Adelaja B, Hu B, King D, Rehill A, Salimkumar D . (2014). Dementia UK: The Second Edition. London: Alzheimer’s Society.
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