The ageing of our population is presented as a major economic and political challenge, but ageing is poorly understood in the political realm. Policy-makers, politicians and practitioners in health and local government services need to understand trends like the 'compression of morbidity',
and the divergence between physiological and chronological age, before changing policies, funding streams and organisational structures in health and social care. This article argues for a considered debate around both optimistic and cautious scenarios, and proposes strategic approaches to
an obsolete hospital system, the cottage industry of care homes and the integration of health and social care.
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