A research brief

In most middle- and high-income

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In most middle- and high-income

countries, people are living longer and
the proportion of the aging population is
growing rapidly.
Timiras (2007) summarizes reasons for these trends in
Physiological Basis of Aging and Geriatrics
“Today, in several developed countries, the rise in the proportion of the elderly relative to the total population is associated with a decline in the proportion of young people. This phenomenon has to do not only with the increased longevity of the elderly, but also with the decrease in the number of the young persons. Despite a reduction in infant mortality worldwide, attributable to successful preventive public health and medical interventions, we have seen a concomitant reduction in fertility, which has been attributed to various socioeconomic and lifestyle factors” (Timiras 2007, 3).
Table 2 describes global aging statistics related to increased longevity and growing proportions of older people.
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Table 2. Global trends in aging.
Past (1950)
Present (2007-2010)
Future (2050)
Increased longevity, especially East Asia
< 45 years
72 years
Greater proportions of people 65 years+
(middle- and high-income countries)
8% total population aged 65+ years

16% total population aged 65+ years

26% total population aged 65+ years
Greater proportions of people 80 years+
(middle- and high-income countries)
4% population aged 80+ years
10% population 80+ years
2. NIH 2007; OECD 2013, 170; UN 2010, 372–373
Vulnerable Groups
Table 3 below describes vulnerable demographic groups, what they are vulnerable to, and related sources.
Table 3. Vulnerable groups in the aging population.
Demographic group
Oldest-old (85 or older)
Disability, mental frailty, and dementia
Men 85+
More likely to commit suicide
Poorer general health outcomes (e.g. heart disease, mental health) and access to health care and other services
3. Adler and Ostrove 1999; CDC 2008; Morgan and Kunkel 2001, 6; NIA 2007, 12; OECD 2013, 176

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