As medical advancements help more people to live longer lives, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2050 and this will require radical societal change.
This was contained in WHO’s Inaugural World Report on Ageing and Health, released to mark this year’s International Day of Older Persons yesterday.
WHO director-general, Dr Margaret Chan, said: “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.”
Another statistic indicates that older people will outnumber under-five children in just five years. Despite the demographic shift, John Beard, a United Nations expert on aging, said there is a general reluctance to talk about the challenges this presents.
“We tend not to talk about the demographics very much because most of the discussions about aging today have been, ‘there is a tsunami of older people coming; they are all a burden and they are going to send us broke,” he said, adding “We are trying to shift from that argument.”