IN praising The Herald for our ageing Scotland series ‘Grey Matters’, Nicola Sturgeon said it was an ‘excellent contribution’ to raising the profile of many issues.

Our week long series has highlighted both the pressures and the potential of an ageing demographic. The fact that we are generally speaking living longer and remaining healthier later in life is undoubtedly a good thing.

But it brings major challenges with it - not everyone enjoys a healthy old age and older Scots are more likely to suffer multiple morbidities, while ever higher numbers have dementia.

Some of the problems in terms of health and social care are well known. But that doesn’t mean we are doing enough about them. Health and social care integration joint boards have yet to prove that they can prevent excessive hospital admissions and bed blocking, so more older people can be looked after at home where they are usually better off.

Care homes and hospitals are increasingly populated by that section of the population who are least well - most often patients suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairments.

There is a crisis in the care industries caused partly by the difficulty of retaining staff in low status, poorly paid jobs. But another factor is chronic underpricing by local authorities of the care they pay for. Government moves to address this by introducing a minimum ‘living’ wage for care workers are very welcome. But the initiative has completely swallowed up the additional money invested in social care by the Scottish Government, leaving little to pay for better training, for example, or to encourage innovation.

And creativity and innovation is certainly something we will need to address the challenges of ageing. We have highlighted potential changes which could contribute to this, from a police database of elderly dementia sufferers at risk of going missing, to attempts to set up ‘fostering’ support for isolated older people.

Grey Matters has also looked at the simple positives. Many older people choose to continue to contribute well beyond retirement age - as employees, or as volunteers. They are consumers, and theatre and opera companies and other arts organisations are among those looking to adapt their productions to suit the needs of an active ageing population.

The Herald began this campaign calling for renewed effort to ensure public services meet the needs of people with dementia - and recognition that the resourcing of community-based care needs to be improved. We cannot continue pretending existing investment is sufficient. If hard choices need to be made about paying more, politicians should not avoid having that debate.

We wanted to see employers trying harder to hire older people - who are often reliable, need less training and can set a good example to younger workers. In particular, we need to confront the pensions issue, and understand the importance of immigration to help balance our ageing population.

Of course it is welcome, that the First Minister and others have praised our coverage. But it needs to be followed by action - and we all need to be part of that discussion.