Elderly people in Dorset will increasingly put a strain on health, housing and other services in the years to come.

Rural Dorset already has the oldest population in the country with the 65+ population expected to grow by 47 per cent over the next 25 years.

Within the next ten years 116,200 of over 65s will have a long-term health problem or disability, up by 20 per cent on current figure, while the number of over 85s will grow by 25 per cent in the decade.

By 2029 an extra 4,000 people over 65 will have dementia, up by 28 per cent.

And with the increases comes a rise in unpaid carers - 12 per cent of the population will be looking after someone else, compared to 10 per cent nationally.

Dorset Council say that to cope with the changes it needs to switch focus to integrated ways of working, involving partners such as the NHS, with a greater emphasis on prevention – but also on rehabilitation and reablement after illness.  More work will also have to be done to find suitable housing with increased demand expected for one-bedroom homes.

A three-year programme is expected to be delivered to the council’s cabinet in November for approval with work on a transformation programme getting underway from April 2020.

Cabinet brief holder Cllr Laura Miller said the programme also needs to consider what can be done to house workers needed for the adult social care sector in a county where average homes are beyond the reach of workers on lower wages and affordable rented homes are in short supply, especially in rural areas.

She said that the council could help with this by releasing land it owns for suitable projects with one scheme about to get underway at Wareham which will see housing, a new GP surgery and other facilities.

Other, similar, projects are being investigated for Bridport and Weymouth.

Dorchester Cllr Richard Biggs said wider aspects also ought to be considered. He said even mundane subjects such as good street and pavement design could play a part by reducing accidents, which impacted on hospital admissions and the need for care at home after being hospitalised.

“Many were designed years ago by middle-aged men who were only thinking about how quickly they could get to work,” he said.