Aging population is a growing problem
People's life expectancy has increased significantly in the past century, creating a growing challenge for health systems and society as a whole. In a recent study, the expected activity restrictions in older adults were examined in order to be better prepared for the challenges of the aging population.
The study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) examined which problems could arise in dealing with the aging population in the future and how they can be dealt with. The results were published in the scientific reports in English.
Share of older people in the world is increasing
By 2050, the world's population is expected to reach two billion people aged 60 and older, the researchers report. About 80 percent of these people will live in low and middle income countries. How healthy older people are depends very much on their physical and social environment, the health and social support systems in their countries and their personal characteristics.
What was the goal of the research?
Some 80-year-olds can have similar physical and mental abilities as some 30-year-olds, while other people experience significant deteriorations in their physical and mental health at a much younger age.
Comprehensive information is required here on how people age in different countries and how much support they would need when they start to experience age-related physical limitations. This is the only way to plan the future public health infrastructure and the necessary services to meet the needs of older people, the researchers report.
Limited data for low and middle income countries
While European countries and the United States have been conducting extensive surveys on aging and health for many years, there is very limited national information on the aging population for low and middle income countries. Based on data from the World Health Survey and the UN World Population Prospects, the current study therefore carried out projections for countries with low and middle incomes for the first time.
Forecasts were made for 23 countries
Using an innovative methodology developed at IIASA, the researchers specifically examined health status based on the activity restrictions of older adults around the world and predicted the proportion of men and women older than 50 years with severe activity restrictions for 23 countries low and middle income.
Similar health trends in poorer and richer countries
The results showed constant prevalence rates of severe activity restrictions among older adults over the next 30 years - even in low and middle income countries. Overall, it was surprising that similar health trends were observed in these countries as in high-income countries, the researchers report. In addition, there are large differences in the proportion of older people in the total population in the 23 countries examined, so that the proportion of older adults with physical disabilities also differs.
It is important to understand the effects of an aging population
The importance of population aging and its global impact cannot be overestimated. It is important to raise awareness, not only of global issues related to the aging of the population, but also of the importance of cross-border research and cross-border political dialogue. The research group explains that this could help to overcome the challenges of an aging global population.
Possible global priorities for the future?
The current study contributes to the research that will help policy makers prepare for a future characterized by challenges related to the aging world population. The researchers emphasize that financial preparation for a longer life and finding ways to reduce age-related disabilities are likely to become national and global priorities in the near future. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Daniela Weber, Sergei Scherbov: Prospects of activity limitations among older adults in 23 low and middle income countries, in Scientific Reports (published 06/26/2020), Scientific Reports