State of the Nation

Can we make Wales the best place in the world to grow older?

As the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, I am advocating that we should work together across society to make Wales the best place in the world to grow older. This report sets out where we are on this journey. 

In order to make progress we need to understand our starting point. What are the circumstances of older people today? What are the trends? Where are we succeeding as an ageing society and where are the problems that need to be tackled? Are we gathering the data and evidence we need to put in place the right policies and action? What do we know about the extent and experiences of ageism, abuse and being able to age well?

What this report shows is that we have some good foundations on which to build. Most older people feel in control of their lives and feel that they can do the things that matter to them. Older people are contributing significantly to society in many different ways, through volunteering, caring and working, and most can get to local services and facilities. Older age is a positive experience for many – and it is important that this is recognised and celebrated.  

The report also shows, however, the stark inequalities that exist within the older population in Wales, and the areas where things are getting worse for older people. Poverty, having fallen, is now on the rise; healthy life expectancy between the least and most deprived areas in Wales varies by as much as 18 years. Significant numbers of older people are not able to access the local services they need; do not know their rights; and are not able to age well. We may have thought that the improvements in older people’s lives secured in the recent past would endure, but this cannot be taken for granted.

In other areas, we face the problem of a lack of information about older people’s experiences. This is particularly noticeable on the issue of abuse where much of the available data is not broken down by age, and where under-reporting of abuse compounds the problem. Under these circumstances, older people and their experiences can be invisible.

This State of the Nation report puts a spotlight on those areas where we need to make improvements, and where we need to build the evidence. 

Overall, it shows us that Wales can be the best place in the world to grow older and that we have some of the foundations in place. 

We all have a role to play in turning this into a reality, and we will all benefit.


Heléna Herklots CBE
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales

Click here to download the State of the Nation Report