The world is in an aged population crisis

The following paragraph is a direct copy from the report entitled “World Population Ageing” Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, 2013. United Nations, New York.

“The global share of older persons (aged 60 years or over) increased from 9.2 per cent in 1990 to 11.7 per cent in 2013 and will continue to grow as a proportion of the world population, reaching 21.1 per cent by 2050. Globally, the number of older persons is expected to more than double from 841 million people in 2013 to more than 2 billion in 2050. Presently, about two thirds of the world’s older people live in developing countries. Because the older population in less developed regions is growing faster than in the more developed countries, the projections show that older persons will be increasingly concentrated in the less developed regions of the world. By 2050, nearly 8 in 10 of the world’s older population will live in the less developed regions. According to the most recent estimates and projections, the share of older persons aged 80 years or over (the “oldest old”) within the older population was 14 per cent in 2013 and is projected to reach 19 per cent in 2050. If this projection is realized, there will be 392 million persons aged 80 years or over by 2050, more than three times the present. 

The report also noted some of the major social and economic consequences of ageing. The old-age support ratios (number of working-age adults per older person in the population) are already low in the more developed regions and in some developing countries and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades with ensuing fiscal pressures on support systems for older persons. In a number of developing countries, poverty is high among older persons, sometimes even higher than the population as a whole, especially in those countries with limited coverage of social security systems. While people are living longer lives almost everywhere, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and disability increase as populations age, which will put upward pressure on health expenditures in the coming decades”.

There is a vast array of literature stating the obvious; that people are living longer and that there is a decline in the family support available to the aging population. This is resulting in significant investment in both home care and residential care, however quality of both is an issue, as is the array of care required. Predominantly the majority of care is provided by the Health Care Assistant (HCA). 

The World Health Organisation estimates that there is a current global shortage of 4.5 million HCA’s, that if little changes by 2036 NZ will be in deficit close to 28,000 HCA’s and our closest neighbour Australia will be looking for 200,000 HCA’s (Badkar. J, 2009; Human Rights Commission, 2012;  Institute of Medicine, 2008).

New Zealand has an excellent reputation for health care provision and the quality of that care. I believe that NZ can lead the care provided for the aged sector. Although we recognise the vital work that the traditional HCA provides we have also identified that there are significant gaps in qualifications available to those interested in providing our older people with a range of ‘care’. The vision of Kalandra involves a number of initiatives including introducing new qualifications to support our older persons and improve their quality of living as well as their end of life care. 


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