Q: What are the public health implications of global ageing?
A: From 2000 until 2050, the world's population aged 60 and over will more than triple from 600 million to 2 billion. Most of this increase is occurring in developing countries - where the number of older people will rise from 400 million in 2000 to 1.7 billion by 2050.
This demographic change has several implications for public health. Good health is essential for older people to remain independent and to play a part in family and community life. Life-long health promotion and disease prevention activities can prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
When these conditions do occur in older people, primary health services must provide accessible, integrated and regular care. Chronic diseases require monitoring in order to minimize the development of associated disabilities and negative effects on the quality of life. The ongoing nature of the care means it is more effectively provided in community-based settings, such as primary health care centres.
Public health action can draw on the capacities of older people. For example, the world's growing population of older people plays a critical role through volunteering, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and increasing their participation in the paid labour force.
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