Fewer over-90s in Buckinghamshire living with a disability

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The pandemic and changes to Census questioning are seen as key factors

There has been a fall in the proportion of people aged 90 years and older living in Buckinghamshire with disabilities, new census data shows.

The Office for National Statistics said the decrease in older people stating they have a disability when the census took place in March 2021 could be due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The ONS figures show about 2,235 people aged 90 and older in Buckinghamshire said they had a very limiting disability – accounting for 41.5% of the age cohort.

Fewer people over 90 have stated they have a disability in the county. (photo from John Stillwell/ PA Images)Fewer people over 90 have stated they have a disability in the county. (photo from John Stillwell/ PA Images)
Fewer people over 90 have stated they have a disability in the county. (photo from John Stillwell/ PA Images)

It was down significantly from 64.7% when the previous census took place in 2011.

A further 1,110 over-90s (20.6%) said they had a disability that was a little limiting, down from 25.6% a decade prior.

Across England, 44.3% of the oldest age cohort said they had a disability that limited them a lot - a fall from 66.5% in 2011. The proportion of older people saying they had a disability that limited them a little also fell from 24.2% in 2011 to 20.1% in 2021.

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In Wales, 47.5% of people aged 90 years and older stated having a very limiting disability while 18.5% said they had a disability that was a little limiting.

The ONS noted a change in the wording of the census question may also account for differences.

It said for older age groups, the visible prompt in the previous census question “include problems related to old age” was removed in the 2021 version, with the possible result this might have reduced the proportion of older people who considered they had a condition or illness.

Julie Stanborough, deputy director of data and analysis for social care and health at the ONS said the drop in older people who are disabled “may seem surprising”.

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Ms Stanborough added: “Sadly, many disabled people died in the Covid-19 pandemic, which may be one of the reasons."

The census figures also show more women had a disability in Buckinghamshire than men. About 41,460 women (14.4%) said they had a disability in 2021 while 33,140 men (12.7%) did.

In England, 18.7% of women and 16.5% of men were disabled in 2021, while in Wales 22.3% of women and 19.8% of men were disabled.