New HelpAge and UNFPA report calls for urgent action by governments to address the needs of aging societies

Aging in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge

By Navdha Malhotra and Rachel Trayner

A new report by HelpAge and UNFPA states that the number of older persons is growing faster than any other age group. The landmark report "Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge", underlines that, while the trend of ageing societies is a cause for celebration, it also presents huge challenges as it requires completely new approaches to health care, employment and living arrangements.

Population of over 60 year-olds to reach one billion within the decade

In 2000, for the first time in history, there were more people over 60 than children below 5. By 2050, the older generation will be larger than the under-15 population. If not addressed promptly, the consequences of these issues are likely to take unprepared countries by surprise.

Speaking at the report's launch in Tokyo, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said: "People everywhere must age with dignity and security, enjoying life through the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms."

"More action needs to be taken to achieve this for all people; new poverty goals must not exclude older people."

More than 60,000 older activists demand better rights

The report's launch will be followed by a day of global activism in which more than 60,000 older persons aged 60 or over, will be campaigning as part of Age Demands Action (ADA).

This year's ADA is shaping up to be the biggest with 61 countries including, Macedonia, Mauritius and St. Vincent joining the campaign in its sixth year.

Calling on governments to take action

From fighting against elder abuse in Kenya, to Meeting with Minister of Employment and Social Welfare in Accra, Ghana to demand the establishment of the National Council on Ageing, activists are calling on governments, international community and civil society to address the rights, concerns and needs of older persons.

In Indonesia, a walkathon will take place in Jakarta and a march in Banda Ache. 350 older people are also taking part in a mass gymnastics event. ADA in oPt will also include a march in the Gaza strip and an exhibition with a focus on the skills and rights of older people. Older campaigners in Argentina are pushing for a regional convention on aging and rights of older people.

ADA campaigners around the world have also been taking part in our global photo action to show the active contribution which older people make to society.

Investing in older people is essential for stronger societies

The report also includes the stories of 1,300 older men and women who participated in group discussions in 36 countries around the world. Richard Blewitt, HelpAge CEO, said: "We must commit to ending the widespread mismanagement of aging. Global and national action plans are needed to create a pathway to transform the explosive number of people over 60 to become growth drivers and value creators.

"By revolutionizing our approach and investing in people as they age we can build stronger, wealthier societies," added Mr. Blewitt.

"Aging is a lifelong process"

"Aging is a lifelong process that does not start at age 60. Today's young people will be part of the 2 billion-strong population of older persons in 2050," said Dr. Osotimehin. "This report shows that, with actions taken now, we can all benefit from the longevity dividend- increasingly in the developing world - now and in the future."

Read the Executive Summary here.

Download Aging in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge on the HelpAge International website.