Demographics and trends
There are increasing numbers of older people across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The current population estimates for 2021 suggest that people aged over 65 living in the West Wales region make up approximately 24.1% of the population in Carmarthenshire, 26.2% in Ceredigion and 26.7% in Pembrokeshire. It is expected that the percentage of the population that is aged 65 and over will rise to 29.53% in Carmarthenshire, 32.54% in Ceredigion and 33.4% in Pembrokeshire, by 2043.
With large parts of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire being both rural and coastal, the region attracts high levels of inward migration of people over 65. People from elsewhere in the UK already account for almost 22% of the population of Wales, with the vast majority of the new arrivals retiring from England (Bingham, 2014). The highest levels are found in Pembrokeshire with a 31% migration rate with 87% of these being over 65. Ceredigion has the largest percentage of residents with a second home in the whole of the UK. Whilst this may be explained in part by the large student population, census data shows that 325 people over 65 in Ceredigion have second addresses outside the county. Of equal importance; data indicates that 1,182 pensioners have second homes in Ceredigion; these individuals have not moved permanently into the area but still spend a significant amount of time there, during which periods they might access health and social care services.
The latest data shows that 7,409 people migrated to Carmarthenshire between June 2018 and June 2019, with the majority in the 25-44 age bracket. 5,318 have migrated to Ceredigion, with the majority in the 16-24 age bracket. 4,779 migrated to Pembrokeshire, the majority being in the 25-44 age bracket, although this is closely followed by the 45-64 age band.
Dementia in people aged less than 65 is described as early onset dementia, young onset dementia or working age dementia. It is estimated that 1 in 1,000 people in Wales have early onset dementia. This figure is slightly higher in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, and higher still in Ceredigion.
The symptoms of dementia may be similar regardless of a person's age, but younger people often have different needs, and therefore often require different support. There is a wide range of diseases that cause early onset dementia and a younger person is much more likely to have a rarer form of dementia than an older person. However, people under 65 do not generally have the co-existing long-term medical conditions of older people. For example, diseases of the heart and circulation. Younger people are usually physically fitter and dementia may be the only serious condition they are living with (Alzheimer’s Society, 2015). The following chart shows the numbers of people with early onset dementia in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Wales.
Older adults in the West Wales region have increasingly complex needs. There are an estimated 6,884 people over the age of 65 with dementia in West Wales, 1,322 in Ceredigion, 2,358 in Pembrokeshire, and 3,204 in Carmarthenshire. Projections show that there will be 10,897 people over the age of 65 with dementia in West Wales by 2035, 1,993 in Ceredigion, 3,831 in Pembrokeshire, and 5,073 in Carmarthenshire.
There is evidence to suggest around 7% of dementia cases in Wales are early-onset dementia, backed up with other estimates of 5%-9% of early onset dementia diagnoses in the UK.