CHRISTCHURCH now has the highest population of over 85s in the UK, according to a new report.

Statistics showing that more than five per cent of people living in the borough are over 85 form part of a survey by Age UK using Office of National Statistics figures into an ageing population.

They reveal that in 2016, 18 per cent of the UK population was over the age of 65, with as many as one in three people living in some regions over that age.

“The top ten UK areas with the highest proportion of over 85s are in the south of England,” said the Age UK report, which calls for the maintenance of vital services for older people in these areas in the future.

The report comes just weeks after Dorset County Council’s concern over the effect on services of its growing elderly population was made public.

Figures from Dorset County Council's State of Dorset report for Population and Older People revealed that almost a third (28 per cent) of people in the county are aged over 65.

It noted that this population will grow by 0.9 per cent (approximately 21,000 people) per year, with a fifth of those expected to be aged over 85.

Alongside this, the life expectancy is above the average across most of the county council area, at 81.2 years for men and 84.7 for women leading the council to warn about a number of difficulties that could arise, including more family members finding themselves acting as informal carers. The number of unpaid carers in Dorset has increased by 17 per cent since 2001 to 49,300.

A Dorset County Council spokesman, said: "As older people live longer, feelings of loneliness and isolation can develop when they are supported to remain in their own homes so the availability of housing for younger people can also be reduced.”

And the growing elderly population is leading to an increase in support needed for diseases such as dementia.

A report produced in Highcliffe earlier this year showed that the number of people diagnosed with dementia in the area had rocketed by more than a third in 2017.

Over the last twelve months dementia diagnoses by Highcliffe Medical Centre went up by 36 per cent, with the number of care plans being put in place for patients who have been diagnosed with dementia nearly doubling from 129 to 236.

Of the new dementia diagnoses in 2017, the majority of patients were aged between 80 and 89 whilst 35 per cent were aged over 90.

Age UK said it was clear from the dataset that the UK's ageing population - especially in rural areas could be 'severely detrimental to the wellbeing of British people'.

"Social isolation and loneliness, as well as deteriorating health due to poor transport links or an unreliable health service, are becoming increasingly likely as a result," it warned.

However, with appropriate government funding, community support and thorough research, a positive trajectory can be achieved it concluded.