The number of old age pensioners in Tayside is set to increase by nearly 75% over the next 23 years.
But health professionals believe they are prepared to deal with any surge in demand, as they move towards anticipating the health needs of the elderly before they need to be hospitalised.
Dr Cesar Rodriguez, associate medical director for older people, tested this approach in a pilot scheme in the area last year and hopes to roll it out across NHS Tayside.
“We are living in a health system that’s very reactive,” he explained. “These figures show this has to change. We need to be proactive.
“We need to know when people are starting to decline and if we can identify that first, we can prevent a crisis happening.”
Meeting the challenges of an advancing population directly is an approach that Councillor Ken Lynn, social work and health convener and Dundee’s older people champion, is also keen to encourage.
He sees the projections as a cause for celebration and urges those currently in work to see their tax payments as an investment in future healthcare.
Mr Lynn said: “Obviously the key concern is finding the resources and the money to care for our ageing population.
“But I think it’s fantastic that, due to advances in healthcare and improved diet, people are keeping active until much later in life.”
The scheme, which has been running in Broughty Ferry, Monifieth and Carnoustie, aims to provide healthcare in people’s homes and reduce the amount of time they have to spend in hospital.
It has been designed, through consultation with older people themselves, charities, public sector workers and healthcare professionals, to respond to the needs of the elderly.
Caroline McQuillian, associate nurse director for older people and colleague of Dr Rodriguez, said: “We know from speaking to older people that they want their care to be delivered in a home setting.
“We need to ensure our care is absolutely person centric and we wrap it around the person rather than the person having to go to lots of different services.”
And with the population of pensioners in Angus above the age of 75 projected to increase by 89% by 2037, the team recognise the need to change the approach to elderly care before a crisis point hits.
Dr Rodriguez said: “We have managed to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital and the number of days they need to be there when they are admitted. It’s been very successful.
“The hope is to scale it up. That’s where we are at the moment, working on expanding it.”
The figures, which were part of NHS public health director Dr Drew Walker’s annual report, were also welcomed by elderly advocacy charity Age Scotland though they did issue a word of caution.
A spokesman said: “We should celebrate the fact that older people are living longer, fuller lives than ever before. But it is essential that all levels of government continue to look ahead and plan for an ageing population.”