30 September 2015 -- Comprehensive public health action on population ageing is urgently needed. This will require fundamental shifts, not just in the things we do, but in how we think about ageing itself. The World report on ageing and health outlines a framework for action to foster Healthy Ageing built around the new concept of functional ability. This will require a transformation of health systems away from disease based curative models and towards the provision of older-person-centred and integrated care.
About ageing and life-course
Populations around the world are rapidly ageing. This is a cause for celebration. In part it reflects our successes in dealing with childhood disease, maternal mortality and in helping women achieve control over their own fertility.
Ageing presents both challenges and opportunities. It will strain pension and social security systems, increase demand for acute and primary health care, require a larger and better trained health workforce , increase the need for long term care and for environments to be made more age-friendly.
However, the opportunities are just as large. Older people are a wonderful resource for their families, communities and in the formal or informal workforce. They are a repository of knowledge. They can help us avoid making the same mistakes again.
Indeed, if we can ensure older people live healthier as well as longer lives, if we can make sure that we are stretching life in the middle and not just at the end, these extra years can be as productive as any others. The societies that adapt to this changing demographic and invest in Healthy Ageing can reap a sizeable "longevity dividend", and will have a competitive advantage over those that don't.
This will require a transformation of health systems away from disease based curative models and towards the provision of older-person-centred and integrated care. It will require the development, sometimes from nothing, of comprehensive systems of long-term care. It will require a coordinated response from many other sectors and multiple levels of government. And it will need to draw on better ways of measuring and monitoring the health and functioning of older populations.