This chapter covers the troubling demographic trends spurring on ACCESS Health International’s work in elder care research. The demographic shift toward older populations is attributed here to overall increased life span, lower mortality rates, declining immigration numbers, and lower fertility rates, as illustrated in the accompanying tables and figures. Though Aging Well is primarily aimed at the United States, the chapter takes care to note that these demographic patterns are nearly universal across the globe. The authors also comment on the shrinking potential support ratio for this growing number of aging people, which brings readers to the crux of Aging Well: the need for comprehensive, preventative, wider ranging elder care.
Projected global population increase by age group 2005–2050
Percent increase (%)
Potential Support Ratio
With the shrinking potential support ratio, who will care for the growing number of older adults? Immigration is one answer, but the overarching response should be that healthcare and social support systems become more efficient to meet the significant needs of this cohort. Informal caregivers make invaluable contributions, but they cannot meet the complex care needs of the growing older population. This care gap is further magnified when considering the rates of comorbidity and cognitive and functional limitations of the older population.
We will begin with some facts about healthcare in the United States and then describe solutions to the challenges we have laid out.
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(2014). The next America. America’s morphing age pyramid. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/next-america/age-pyramid/. Accessed March 2016.
National Institute on Aging. Why population aging matters: A global perspective. Trend 3: rising numbers of the oldest old. https://www.nia.nih.gov/publication/why-population-aging-matters-global-perspective/trend-3-rising-numbers-oldest-old. Accessed January 10, 2016.
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Population Ageing 2015 (ST/ESA/SER.A/390).
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