If you are currently trawling the web to find a high-quality yet affordable mobility scooter for sale, you or a family member is likely to have limited mobility. You will also know that, with the UK population ageing at a rapid rate, there are millions of other people living with similar conditions to your own.
Despite this, it can often be all too easy to dwell on our own circumstances and lose sight of the national situation. For this reason, we are going to share eight facts with you about disability in the UK, all of which should help to demonstrate that you are not alone in whatever challenges you face, however it may sometimes feel.
1) Almost 1 in 5 are disabled
According to official government figures, over 13 million people throughout the UK are living with some form of disability, which equates to nearly one in five of the country’s residents. This statistic may come as a surprise, but it is important to remember that not all disabilities are immediately obvious; many individuals have serious physical or mental conditions that are entirely invisible.
The fact that there is such a high number of people across the UK who have such a wide range of disabilities is an indication of the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and other public bodies when it comes to providing all those who need it with timely access to their services.
Nevertheless, improvements in the availability of helpful equipment such as mobility scooters mean that at least getting from place to place is now more straightforward for most who have reduced mobility than ever before.
2) 80% become disabled later in life
Even though there is now such a high proportion of disabled people in Britain, it is still the case that the majority are not born with any conditions that would be classified as a disability. Indeed, recent research from the Papworth Trust charity estimates that less than 20% of UK residents who are currently disabled have been so since birth.
As this statistic would suggest, many disabilities tend to develop later in life and are inextricably linked to the ageing process. This again highlights the importance of ensuring older people have access to all the tools they need (including mobility equipment) that could help to make day-to-day life easier.
3) 10 million have hearing loss
Behind the various conditions which can lead to mobility difficulties – arthritis, back problems, et cetera – hearing loss is the most common disability in the UK, affecting an estimated 11 million people. As you will probably already know, gradually worsening hearing is a typical consequence of growing older (two-thirds of those with hearing loss are over 60), which reinforces our previous point of most disabilities not being present at birth.
Once again, technological developments have proved to be invaluable in terms of allowing people to enjoy fulfilling lives whilst living with a disability. About two million people in Britain now use hearing aids, which itself is a testament to how effective the latest models have become.
4) There are 800,000 disabled children
Whilst disability is far more common among those aged 60+, it goes without saying that many young people, including children, are also affected by a range of disabilities – and it is vital that we always remember how challenging this can be for parents, who inevitably become carers too.
Recent research suggests that the average household income for families with disabled children is nearly a quarter below that of non-disabled households; this shocking statistic is an indication of how the time and pressure involved in caring for young people with physical or mental limitations really can have an impact on all aspects of family life.
5) Half of disabled adults are in work
In 2016, it was found that over 45% of eligible disabled UK adults were employed in work of some kind. Although the proportion of non-disabled adults in work is higher (nearly 85%), recent years have still seen a striking rise in the number of workers with some form of disability.
It is thought that around 4.1 million disabled people of working age currently have jobs in the UK, which represents a jump of more than 40% on the comparative figures from 2013.
6) 1 in 8 adults are carers
Carers UK, a charity that aims to offer advice and support to carers throughout Britain, recently revealed that one in every eight people permanently cares for a family member or someone else they are close to; this equates to over 10% of the UK’s total population.
This figure is a reminder of how disability does not only affect the individual who is disabled but can also be a major part of the lives of their immediate friends and family.
7) Over a million carers are 65+
As disability is far more prevalent among older people, it stands to reason that a significant percentage of carers would also be of retirement age. And, sure enough, this theory has been borne out by research from Carers UK, which has found that 1.3 million people aged 65 or older are now responsible for the care of a loved one.
This statistic clearly demonstrates the ongoing need for organisations such as Carers UK. Providing an invaluable lifeline for anyone who may be struggling with their caring duties, dedicated charities like these are well worth getting in touch with for those who feel they may fall into this category.
8) 2 million households are adapted
If you needed any further indication of how widespread physical disability now is among the general UK population, it comes with the fact that 1.9 million households in the UK now feature some form of disability-friendly adaptation.
Research by the Papworth Trust concluded that the most common adaptation is currently the installation of grab rails, which help wheelchair users and those who are unsteady on their feet move around with ease and in safety. After grab rails, the most widely installed adaptations are all found in the bathroom, with accessible baths and showers, adapted toilet seats and special seats for use in the bath or shower all now being popular choices.