Over 50s in Sunderland and Durham 'most vulnerable'

Image caption,
Many elderly are in Sunderland and Durham are living frugally and in ill health

People aged over 50 living in Sunderland and Durham are among the most "vulnerable" in the UK, BBC-commisioned research has found.

Almost a quarter of over 50s - 24.6% - in Sunderland are causing concern because they are in poor health, are isolated, living frugally and are physically inactive.

This is the 12th worst area for vulnerable older people in the UK, according to the study carried by Experian.

The figure for County Durham is only slightly better at 23.4% - a ranking of 21st worst.

These are compared with an affluent area such as Eden in Cumbria where there are more older residents, but only 4.3% are said to be "vulnerable".

Sunderland Council estimates that by 2025 there will be 57,800 people over 65 in the borough and an estimated 27,000 of these will need daily help, including more than 4,000 likely to be suffering from dementia.

The council's aim is to try and help its elderly population live at home independently, for as long as possible.

Currently 24,000 people use its Telecare service system which means their homes are fitted sensors and other equipment that can detect problems and emergencies, such as falls and low room temperatures.

The sensors can also detect whether cookers and taps have been left on.

Neil Revely, executive director of health, housing and adult services, for Sunderland Council said coping with the ageing population was a "challenge".

He said: "We are overseeing investment in excess of £30m in extra care housing schemes across the city.

"The schemes work by allowing over 55s to rent, buy or part-own their own apartment in an extra care development, where on-site care is available round-the-clock.

"They offer a real alternative to residential and nursing care and the council aims to have enough extra care places to eventually match the number of older people who want to live in this type of accommodation."

In County Durham the number of over 50s is expected to rise from 38% to 42% of the population within 20 years.

The county also offers the Telecare service for older people.

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