10 facts on ageing and the life course
Reviewed October 2014
The ageing of the world's population - in developing and developed countries - is an indicator of improving global health. The world's population of people 60 years of age and older has doubled since 1980 and is forecast to reach 2 billion by 2050. This is a cause for celebration. Older people make important contributions to society as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce. The wisdom they have gained through life experience makes them a vital social resource.
However, along with these benefits come special health challenges for the 21st century. It is important to prepare health providers and societies to meet the specific needs of older populations. This includes training for health professionals on old-age care; preventing and managing age-associated chronic diseases; designing sustainable policies on long-term and palliative care; and developing age-friendly services and settings.
The quicker we take action, the better chance we have of ensuring this global transformation benefits everyone. Countries that invest in healthy ageing can expect a significant social and economic return for the whole community.