THE number of pensioner households is set to soar across Dorset according to Government projections.

Office for National Statistics data suggests that by 2041 the number of homes where the head of the household is aged over 65 will rise by 55 per cent in Bournemouth, 50 per cent in Dorset county and 46 per cent in Poole - a total of more than 184,000 homes.

The number of households with people aged over 85 is predicted to rise even more, by 104 per cent in Dorset, 84 per cent in Poole and 75 per cent in Bournemouth – more than 41,000 households.

Dr Elizabeth Webb of Age UK said that while many people living longer would remain independent there would be a growing need for health and social care that could not currently be fulfilled.

"The over 85 group is the fastest growing and the most likely to have the greatest needs for social and health care, which has an impact on the health service," Dr Webb said.

"It's about having a person there to help get them out of bed, help them wash and dress and to put a meal on the table. This needs people, not a technological solution.

"The social care workforce is understaffed and there's not enough cash to provide the support that's needed.

"Older people today are more likely than future generations to have children to help care for them.

"In future we'll see more people living alone and more without someone to care for them."

The ONS defines a household as a single person living alone, or a group of people who live at the same address and share rooms and a kitchen. A household may be a family, more than one family, or a group of unrelated people.

Older people account for most of the growth in the number of households in the next two decades.

Joanna Harkrader, from the centre for ageing and demography at the ONS, said: "We project the majority of household growth over the next 25 years will be because of the rise in the number of households being headed by someone aged 65 years and over.

"This shows the impact an ageing population is having.”

Bournemouth is expected to see 17 per cent in under 25 households, and Poole four per cent, but Dorset is projected to see a decline of 12 per cent. Meanwhile the number of households in the 25-34 bracket is not expected to change significantly.

Overall, ONS projections would see Dorset's population rise by 35,394 to 449,205 by 2041, Bournemouth's by 26,320 to 215,626 and Poole's by 11,642 to 159,775.

The ONS believes that by 2041 there will be an extra four million households in England.