Increasing healthy life expectancy: the policy implications of geroscience

01 May 2024

The UK’s demographic and health landscapes are undergoing a profound transformation characterised by a steadily ageing population and the rising prevalence of health conditions associated with older age. By 2040, the number of people aged 85 and over in the UK will double to 2.6 million. In contrast, the population of working-age is likely to remain relatively static. Caring for an ageing population is therefore one of the biggest clinical challenges facing the NHS and health systems around the world. 

The Royal Society’s policy briefing, Increasing life expectancy: the policy implications of geroscience, explores the emerging field of geroscience, a scientific discipline at the intersection of basic ageing biology, chronic disease and frailty. By targeting the biological mechanisms of the ageing process, the geroscience approach seeks to prevent or delay the onset and progression of multiple ageing-related conditions. It challenges the traditional view that ill health during ageing is inevitable, as demonstrated by many examples of healthy ageing humans in their 90s and 100s, and discoveries of interventions to increase healthy lifespan in animal models.

The briefing highlights the many public health and economic benefits that implementing geroscience-informed interventions could bring, including to reduce strain on the NHS, boost workforce productivity, attract investment and reduce inequalities. It also considers several areas where more effort is required to ensure that these benefits can be realised.