NEW YORK –The world’s population is getting bigger but also older and fast. It’s not just aging baby-boomers, according to the World Health Organization; the population of people over the age of 60 has doubled since 1980 and will reach 2 billion by 2050. That means the seniors will go from roughly 11 percent of the world’s population today to 22 percent three decades from now.
Some people think that as the world's population creaks into the autumn years, it will result in a demographic dilemma that will overwhelm the health care system, flatline the workforce and idle vital skill sets and knowledge as people are forced into retirement.
Before you dream up images of a looming totalitarian granny-state, or scenes from the film “Logan’s Run,” you should know others see an aging population as a good thing.
A 2013 Businessweek editorial said that graying of the world is due, in part, to dropping birthrates. That, said Newsweek, is a reflection of rising gender equality around the world. They even think an aging of industrial countries might help reduce global warming.
Still, bureaucrats are struggling to get their heads around the problem. In September, Canada hosted the second -ever conference on developing ‘age-friendly’ cities, and in May, the UN put the aging population on the table at their meeting in The Hague.
Here are a few things the World Health Organization wants you to know:
- By 2050 the world will have almost 400 million people aged 80 years or older.
- Biggest health concerns will be noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease.
- The number of older people who are no longer able to look after themselves in developing countries is forecast to quadruple by 2050. More than ever, diet, exercise and healthy living will determine if someone will remain independent as they age.
- The WHO said, it's never too late to get healthy, for example, the risk of premature death decreases by 50% if someone gives up smoking between 60 and 75 years of age.