Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Age shall not wither

"The world’s population is getting older. In the next 50 years, the number of older people will nearly quadruple, growing from about 600 million to almost 2 billion people. Today, one in every ten is 60 years and older. By 2050, this will become one out of every five, and by 2150, one third of the people in the world are expected to be 60 years of age or older.

"In some developed countries and countries with economies in transition, birth rates have fallen below replacement levels, and the number of older persons will be greatest in developing countries, where the older population is expected to quadruple over the next 50 years. Eighteen out of the 20 countries in the world with the highest percentages of older people are in WHO’s European Region. In these countries, between 13.2% and 17.9% of the population are over 65 years old."

The above is from the wesbite of "Technology Research For Independent Living." - . We hear a lot about the ageing population and the attendant stresses on pension systems and social welfare systems. We also hear quite a lot about how our lives as doctors/future doctors will be affected by this. There's no doubt that the burden of dementia and the needs of carers will dramatically increase.

However, the ageing population is invariably posed as a problem. As websites like the above reveal, many companies are seeing these demographic issues as commercial opportunities. Perhaps there are other potential positives we don't see yet. Certainly, notions of "old age" and the capabilities of those formerly classed as elderly are changing. A generation of people who came of age in the 1960s and who have very different expectations from life than their parents is now coming into the "elderly" bracket.

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