NEW YORK: With advances in medicine helping more people to live longer lives, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2050 and will require radical societal change, according to a new report by World Health Organisation released on the International Day of Older Persons.
The report indicates that with advances in medicine more people will live longer lives. “Today, most people, even in the poorest countries, are living longer lives,” WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan said.
“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,” she stressed.
Contrary to widespread assumptions, WHO said the report finds that there is very little evidence that the added years of life are being experienced in better health than was the case for previous generations at the same age, Newsmax reported.
While some older people may indeed be experiencing both longer and healthier lives, these people are likely to have come from more advantaged segments of society, the UN health agency underlined.
Department of Ageing and Life Course Director Dr John Beard said that a longer live must be combined with healthier live for all the people.
“People from disadvantaged backgrounds, those in poorer countries, those with the fewest opportunities and the fewest resources to call on in older age, are also likely to have the poorest health and the greatest need,” he underlined.
The WHO report stresses that governments must ensure policies that enable older people to continue participating in society and that avoid reinforcing the inequities that often underpin poor health in older age. “Unfortunately, 70 does not yet appear to be the new 60,” Dr Beard said.
The report highlights three key areas for action, beginning with making cities and communities friendlier to older people.
Also critical is realigning health systems to the needs of older people and governments developing long-term care systems that can reduce inappropriate use of acute health services and ensure people live their last years with dignity.