IF THE Isle of Wight was a country, it would be the ‘most aged’ in the world — even above Japan.

Pensioners are expected to make up almost a third of the Isle of Wight’s residents by 2026, according to the latest population projections.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that over ten years, the proportion of senior citizens will increase from 27 per cent in 2016 to 31 per cent.

The latest population projections indicate the UK as a whole has an ageing population. Improvements in healthcare and technology mean people are living longer however, this puts greater pressure on the NHS and social care.

Head of charitable services at Age UK, Nicola Attfield, said the Isle of Wight mirrored a national trend, but was slightly ‘ahead of the curve’.

She said: “We are finding that although people are living for longer, they are living in poor health for longer.”

Age UK Isle of Wight focus on early intervention, to allow elderly people to stay independent for longer. They have worked with the Southern Vectis to make the buses more age-friendly.

Ms Attfield said: “We sometimes see people and think we could have changed their situation, had we only seen them six months earlier.

“Elderly people can be a huge asset to the Island. Even the Isle of Wight Festival is 50 this year — everyone is getting older and we need to embrace it.”

The Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for commissioning services for the Island’s NHS trust.

A spokesperson on behalf of both organisations said they recognised the long-term challenges an ageing population would bring to the Island. They said plans were based on meeting these forecast needs over the next ten years.

In addition to working with the Local Care Board, the CCG and IW NHS Trust will be providing information, advice and support through a range of organisations.

They said: “Plans are already taking shape, with many aspects already having been implemented and with more to follow over the next three-five years.”

“They include working more closely together as organisations to help prevent those who are particularly vulnerable, like the frail elderly, from reaching a crisis point.

The figures form part of ONS population estimates, which are calculated every two years. Statisticians study birth and death rates, and look at how the area’s population is ageing.

Overall the ONS estimates the Isle of Wight’s population will increase from 140,300 in 2016 to 145,700 by 2026, a rise of 3.8 per cent.