A new report says the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double by the year 2050.
The World Health Organization says society worldwide will experience major changes, with 20 percent of the population older than 60. The report urges governments to have policies that permit older people to participate more in society.
Dr. Margaret Chan is WHO’s director-general.
“Today, most people, even in the poorest countries, are living longer lives. But this is not enough. We need to ensure these extra years are healthy, meaningful and dignified. “Achieving this will not just be good for older people, it will be good for society as a whole,” Dr. Chan said.
The report says that some older people are experiencing longer and healthier lives. However, those people are likely to live in richer countries.
Aging in the Americas
In 2006, there were 50 million older adults in the Americas. That number is expected to double by 2025. By the year 2050, 1-in-4 people in the Americas will be over 60. Globally, 1-in-5 people will be over 60.
Carissa F. Etienne is a director at WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas. She says that longer lives will require on health and social systems that provide care for older people. In her words, "our health and social systems are not ready to provide independent living and long-term care for those who need it.”
Societal changes needed
The WHO report says that older people make many important contributions to families and communities. It suggests that these contributions are greater than the costs of providing elders with more health services.
The report says societies need to adjust to an aging population. Communities need to become friendlier to older people. This means improving security for elders and preventing social isolation and loneliness.
Health systems need to better serve older people. Systems need to provide more long-term care for conditions common in older age.
Governments also need to develop long-term care systems that ensure people live their later years with dignity. The report says that especially women – who often are the main caregivers for older family members – need more support and resources.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
What does your community or country do to provide support for older people and for their caregivers? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
evidence – n. something which shows that something else exists or is true
independent – adj. not requiring or relying on other people for help or support
contribution – n. something that is done to cause something to happen
isolation - n. the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others
dignity – n. the quality of being worthy of honor or respect