A future plan for a healthy aging planet

While today nearly 900 million people are over the age of 60 in a global population of 7 billion, this number will reach 2.4 billion by 2050. Such a change will have personal consequences for healthy aging individual lives to which societies, communities and families have not yet adapted. To capitalize on the new promise of longevity, we need to re-envision our lives and what ‘aging well’ means – and we need to trust in innovation and new technology to provide meaningful, impactful healthcare solutions that will enable people to live healthier lives.

For instance, we need to ask whether social, cultural and economic norms are adapting quickly enough to assist older persons through the new transitions of longer lives.
At Philips, we believe that the speed of change has outpaced the rate at which individuals, families, communities and global society have adapted to a world in which older populations are the norm. Given that circumstance, a strategic focus on learning how to better manage the aging society, individually and collectively, will yield important dividends in adding quality of life to years.

We need to move away from viewing aging solely as a time of inevitable decline to one that can be rich with new innovations and possibilities."

 

Philips Aging Well Position Paper, 2014

With this in mind, we believe there are four primary dimensions to aging well, that center on both personal benefits and innovative technology - Aging Society, Personal Aging, Capabilities and Public Private Policies. It’s a useful framework for contemplating how solutions in aging issues such as technology, personal skills and human resilience and the creators of solutions, including policy makers, employers and innovators, can together create positive change towards a new society focused on the health and well-being of an aging population.

10%

of people today are over 60 years of age. By 2050 this will have grown to 20% globally, an unprecedented demographic change.

 

Citation: Global Age Watch Index 

It is critical to reflect not only upon how individuals can age well, but also how public policy, social institutions and private enterprises can respond appropriately and productively to the dramatic growth in the segment of the global population over the age of 60. We need to move away from viewing aging solely as a time of inevitable decline to one that can be rich with new innovations and possibilities. Governments should continue to encourage, through economic and policy incentives, an aging society that stays active and productive in the workforce, engaged in their communities and maintains their independence for as long as they are capable.
The best way to optimize personal aging and capabilities is by limiting modifiable risk factors and taking advantage of prevention and treatment interventions, either to obviate or manage the diseases – hypertension, stroke, diabetes, asthma, cancers, dementia, etc., that cause most of the morbidity that affects the ability of people to add healthy years to their lives. As such, it is important for governments, NGOs and the private sector to develop innovative ways to address health inequity, to increase physical activity and healthy diets among older persons, to empower citizens and patients to make their own decisions about their health choices in collaboration with healthcare providers and other caregivers, and to enhance the provision and utilization of clinical preventive services and cost-effective treatments. Public policy should focus on enabling workforce and community engagement, creating age-friendly environments, and promoting technologies that facilitate greater independence and patient-centered care.
Governments, employers, communities and individuals themselves create the conditions for older persons around the world not merely to live longer, but to flourish and have the freedom and capacity to live the lives they value. Together, we have the opportunity to re-imagine aging, to find creative ways to apply the experience and knowledge of older people to build age-friendly societies that will enable everyone – of whatever age –, to put his or her capabilities to best use. In this way, we can use health aids for the elderly to transform society, encourage hospitals to cut their costs and allow pioneering innovation to help improve individual lives.

There are almost 900 million people aged 60 and over in the world today?

True. This number is expected to reach 2.4 billion by 2050. Citation: OECD Forum 2014

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