(Please note that this is my personal take at the discussions that took place in Dubai as part of the Global Agenda Council on the Challenges of Gerontology put together by the World Economic Forum, and builds on the work of my colleagues, but it does not represent a formal document or statement of position. Simply put, we would like to engage your brain in defining the challenges and outlining/ executing the solutions).
Context: The Challenges of the Aging Society
The world is aging. This is occurring in two ways: through shifts in the age structure that will eventually lead to many more people reaching older ages than ever before, and through continued success in extending life. Less than 100 years ago, life expectancy was between 30 to 40 years. Today, close to 800 million citizens are 60 and over.
And aging in healthier ways. Aging has incorrectly been associated with decline and decay, when in fact many people live healthy into older ages. There has been a synchronous extension in life expectancy and quality of life — the average 65-year-old today is much healthier, physically and mentally, than the average 50-year-old of 100–150 years ago — when most existing institutions were envisioned and created.
Healthy life can be further extended with existing knowledge. The fact is the onset and progression of fatal and disabling diseases, disorders, and disability can be postponed using well-researched basic measures of public health, environmental and behavioural changes, and medical technology interventions. The same methods may be used to improve or maintain mental and physical functioning.
Our healthcare and retirement systems are on bankruptcy track — their premises are outdated. Existing institutions, policies and attitudes do not reflect the points outlined above, having been developed for a society that no longer exists. We need to get on the right track: [Read more…] about The Future of the Aging Society: Burden or Human Capital?