Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matterMark Twain
The year 2020 marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons. The year 2020 marks the beginning of the “Decade of Healthy Ageing”. On 14 December 1990, the UN General Assembly designated 1 October as the International Day of Older Persons. The day is a celebration and respecting the contributions of the older individuals make to society. Raise awareness of the unique health needs of older persons and of their contributions to the functioning of the communities in which they live. This year the day will highlight the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons. Ageing issues cut across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 3, which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all at all ages”.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world. The fatality rate for older people is higher overall, and for those over 80, it is five times the global average. It is likely to have a particularly devastating impact on older people in developing countries. Celebrating this day will increase understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on older persons and its effect on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.
The world marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons as we reckon with the disproportionate and severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on older persons around the world – not only on their health, but on their rights and well-beingAntónio Guterres
Globally, there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over in 2019. The region of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia was home to the largest number of older persons (261 million), followed by Europe and Northern America (over 200 million). Europe, Northern America, and wealthy countries in Asia have the oldest inhabitants, while Africa has by far the youngest. Japan, and many European countries (Italy, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Germany, France) 20% of their population are elderly. In the US it is 16%. Africa has the youngest population of any region.
Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050. The largest increase is projected to occur in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. The global population of the “oldest old”, people aged 80 and older, is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050 and predicted to be quadruple in Asian and Latin American countries.
In India, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above), 51% of them being female. They are expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. Kerala has a maximum proportion of older people in its population, followed by Goa and Tamil Nadu. Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh and Daman & Diu and Meghalaya the least (less than 5%)
People are living longer, but that does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier. Older people make considerable contributions to society through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities. People work through their lives to fulfil the requirements of life for the family and contribute to the growth of the siblings, and as one age, health issues would crop up. Word is seeing more nuclear families, single-parent households and young people travelling to far off places in search of prosperity, a situation is developing where care for old is becoming a challenge. The challenge takes a different dimension when the older people are not economically independent. In a society like ours, older people living on their own is not being accepted with grace, putting that much extra burden for the elderly to lead peaceful lives. Society must be prepared to tackle it. There is a need to build more inclusive, sustainable and age-friendly communities that are fit for the future.
Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old ageVictor Hugo
No person is expendable.
Older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else.