We're more biologically fit than our ancestors due to better conditions for children from many decades ago.
What's surprising, is today 900 million people on earth have reached their 60th birthday. And because of the lower fertility rates, by 2050, 2.1 billion people 60 and over will inhabit this planet.
The unexpected consequence of longevity... more older folks than younger ones.
With that number of older people, I wonder who will take care of us?
The Care Needed
In the United States, the Census reports, close to 55 million people are 65 plus and by 2050, that number will rise to nearly 85 million. The booming segment is a byproduct of improved developments, medical advancements, science, and technology. Vaccines, antibiotics, and improved hygiene have kept infectious illnesses at bay. Safer conditions for children have evolved which contribute to healthier and longer life spans.
Through longevity, the healthcare and family caregiver systems will experience a heavier burden. It's true that medical advances put a stop to some diseases but now, in the 21st century we face many more associated with chronic conditions which continue to multiply.
Take the hefty trend of diabetes and hypertension, the two top diseases of the population. Since 1980, diabetes has increased from 104 million people living with it to 425 million today.
Furthermore, by 2050, 80 percent of the world's population will have one chronic illness, while 68 percent will have 2 plus.
In 2018, the National Institute of Health declared approximately one in three of all adults worldwide suffer from multiple chronic conditions. To say we're facing an epidemic of chronic illnesses is an understatement.
What Can Be Done?We can wait for medical science to remedy the epidemic. However, I believe it's up to each of us to step up and take responsibility.
A few ways we can do that (you know the drill:)
It's why I created the Aging 101 Starter Kit. It's not meant to be a complete plan of action to live a better life. However, it's a starting point when addressing the top challenges of older age.
The family caregiving experience was my wake up call to future planning. I knew back then there would be no one to take care of me. And now it's my mission to spread awareness of the importance of self-care.