Older population will be double Globally by 2050 - Seeker's Thoughts

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Older population will be double Globally by 2050

The global population aged 60 years or over numbered 962 million in 2017, more than twice as large as in 1980 when there were 382 million older persons worldwide.  The number of older persons is expected to double again by 2050 when it is projected to reach nearly 2.1 billion.

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The older population of the developing regions is growing much faster than in the developed regions. consequently, the developing regions are home to a growing share of the world’s older population. In 1980, the developing regions were home to 56 percent of persons aged 60 years or over.

In 2017, over two-thirds of the world’s older persons living in the developing regions. Between 2017 and 2050, the number of persons aged 60 years or over in the developing regions is expected to increase more than twofold, from 652 million to 1.7 billion, whereas the more developed regions are projected to see a 38 percent increase in the number of older persons over that period, from 310 million persons aged 60 years or over in 2017 to 427 million in 2050. Projections indicate that in 2050, 79 percent of the world’s population aged 60 or over will be living in the developing regions.

Over the coming decades, the number of older persons is expected to grow fastest in Africa, where the population aged 60 or over is projected to increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2050, from 69 to 226 million.

 Africa is followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, where the older population is projected to increase more than twofold between 2017 and 2050, from 76 to 198 million. Asia also is expected to experience a twofold increase in the number of older persons, with the population aged 60 or over projected to increase from 549 million in 2017 to nearly 1.3 billion in 2050. Of the six major geographic regions, the older population is expected to grow most slowly in Europe, with a projected increase of 35 percent between 2017 and 2050.

Growth in the number of older persons is a global phenomenon: it is expected that between 2017 and 2050, virtually every country in the world will experience a substantial increase in the size of the population aged 60 years or over.  Nevertheless, there is a great deal of heterogeneity in the growth rates of the older population within regions and income groups.

Many middle-income countries also are anticipating rapid growth in the number of older persons between 2017 and 2050. Of the 103 middle-income countries with at least 90,000 inhabitants, 78 percent are projected to see the number of older persons increase more than twofold and the number of persons aged 60 years or over is expected to triple by 2050 in 42 percent of middle-income countries. Projected growth rates tend to be slower, on average, for the older populations of high-income countries. Among the 61 high-income countries with at least 90,000 inhabitants, just one third are expected to see a doubling in the older population between 2017 and 2050, whereas the projected growth is less than 40 percent in another one-third of countries. 

Indian scenario

The percentage of senior citizens in India’s population has been growing at an increasing rate in recent years and the trend is likely to continue, First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN.
According to the State of World Population 2019 report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), released. India’s population in 2019 stood at 1.36 billion, growing from 942.2 million in 1994 and six percent of India’s population was of the age 65 and above.

 Problems of the elderly population in India:
Isolation and loneliness among the elderly are rising. Nearly half the elderly felt sad and neglected, 36 percent felt they were a burden to the family.

The rise in age-related chronic illness:
Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases will cause more death and illness worldwide than infectious or parasitic diseases over the next few years. In developed nations, this shift has already happened. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are expected to almost double every 20 years, as life expectancy increases.

Special challenges for less-developed nations:
Poorer countries will carry the double burden of caring for older people with chronic diseases, as well as dealing with continued high rates of infectious diseases. The increasing need for long-term care: The number of sick and frail elderly needing affordable nursing homes or assisted living Centers will likely increase.

A rise in Health care costs:
As older people stop working and their health care needs increase, governments could be overwhelmed by unprecedented costs. While there may be cause for optimism about population aging in some countries, the Pew survey reveals that residents of countries such as Japan, Italy, and Russia are the least confident about achieving an adequate standard of living in old age.

Elderly women issues:
They face a lifetime of gender-based discrimination. The gendered nature of aging is such that universally, women tend to live longer than men.

In the advanced age of 80 years and above, widowhood dominates the status of women with 71 percent of women and only 29 percent of men have lost their spouses.

Social mores inhibit women from re-marrying, resulting in an increased likelihood of women ending up alone. The life of a widow is riddled with stringent moral codes, with integral rights relinquished and liberties circumvented.

Social bias often results in the unjust allocation of resources, neglect, abuse, and exploitation, and gender-based violence, lack of access to basic services and prevention of ownership of assets. Aging women are more likely to get excluded from social security schemes due to lower literacy and awareness levels.

The aging individual is expected to need health care for a longer period of time than previous generations but elderly care for a shorter period of time
 Aging is irreversible and inevitable: 
The share of older persons, those aged 60 years or above, in India’s population, is projected to increase to nearly 20 percent in 2050.

Equipping people in earlier age cohorts will help them remain in good health and involved in the community throughout the aging process.

The share of the population over the age of 60 is projected to increase from 8 percent to nearly 20 percent in 2050 Fulfilling needs for services and social protection for senior citizens, protection of their rights and enabling them to contribute in the development process are priorities for India.

Madrid International Plan of Action: 
The adoption of the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing provides a roadmap for addressing the challenges of an aging society and the realization of the human rights of older persons.

The 2030 Agenda also recognizes the importance of realizing their full potential and their contribution to inclusive development The Madrid International Plan of Action adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002 offered a bold new agenda for handling the issue of aging in the 21st-century.

It focused on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.


Measures in place in India to improve the quality of life of older persons and protect their rights
Recently launched the world’s largest healthcare program “National Health Protection Scheme”.
The National Old Age Pension Scheme and a subsidized food distribution programme provide income and nutritional security to older persons in poverty. The Continuing Education and Adult Education programmes in India extend literacy, vocational and quality of life training options, with a special focus on reducing the gender gap in literacy and post-literacy capacity building.

The National Policy on Senior Citizens envisages state support for financial and food security, health care, shelter and protection against exploitation. The National Council of Senior Citizens is the highest advisory body for policymaking on the entire gamut of issues related to the elderly.

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Way forward: 
We need timely action based on the existing global framework and ensure that action should not fall behind this demographic trend. Increased investments, political will and addressing gaps in data and statistics are key to concerted response

We must better equip people in earlier age cohorts so that they remain in good physical and mental health and continue their involvement in family and community throughout the aging process. Stronger partnerships between civil society, community and families are necessary to complement the actions taken by Governments in this regard.

Issues of poverty, migration, urbanization, ruralisation and feminization compound the complexity of this emerging phenomenon. Public policy must respond to this bourgeoning need and mainstream action into developmental planning. Gender and social concerns of the elderly, particularly elderly women, must be integrated at the policy level.

The elderly, especially women, should be represented in decision making.
Increasing social/widow pension and its universalization are critical for expanding the extent and reach of benefits.
The government must proactively work on lifestyle modification, non-communicable disease management, vision and hearing problem management and accessible health care through Ashman Bharat.

The elderly should be seen as a blessing, not a burden. The elderly are becoming the fastest-growing, but underutilized resource available to humanity. Rather than putting them aside, physically (and mentally), to be cared for separately, they should be integrated into the lives of communities where they can make a substantial contribution to improving social conditions. The benefits of turning the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’ for other social problems are being demonstrated in several countries.

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