"We're an old country – with our best years ahead of us." That's how David Cameron once characterised Britain, as he set out his vision to "defuse the demographic timebomb" and use its energy to power the country forward. Yet new research for the Guardian shows many old men and women do not share his optimism about the future of our rapidly ageing Britain, amid growing concern about pensions, health and social care, rising living costs and marginalisation.
The survey of 1,600 old people, carers, professionals working with older people and members of the public showed that :
* just 29% felt the standard of living of old people was currently at a good level, compared with 46% who said that it wasn't.
* 11% expect old people's standard of living to improve over the next 20 years, against 79% who said that it wouldn't.
* over 70% do not believe old people's overall quality of life will rise in the next two decades, compared with under 16% who do.
* many think there is a growing divide between those who are financially secure as they retire and those who are struggling in their old age.
* one respondent said : "Some people's standard of living will be good, but a lot of people's isn't, and I expect the large gap between the haves and the have-nots to grow. Pensions are worth nothing, care is being cut back, people are living longer, jobs are going digital. All this, to me, adds up to a hideous time ahead, potentially, for older people."
* the issue of loneliness was touched on by another respondent who said that old people are "the forgotten part of society, hidden away and isolated".
* 77% do not believe public services are working in a co-ordinated way to meet the challenges ahead of a Britain with more and more old men and women.
" It is no wonder there is a general pessimism about ageing when so much of the debate is a negative one. Across all of our public discourse, ageing is seen as a problem and older people are seen as a burden."