The Lancet sounds alarm over care of the elderly

The Lancet has published an alarming editorial about the pressure on healthcare systems from an growing elderly population. The article examines the various factors that are contributing to an 'elderly care crisis'. The key issue is demographic -- the proportion of people aged over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22% between 2000 and 2050. In addition, Western nations such as Britain have significantly cut funding to elderly care in recent years. As noted in the Age UK report Crisis in Care 2014, public funding for older people's social care fell by a massive £1·2 billion (15·4% in real terms) between 2010—11 and 2013—14, even though it had been stagnant between 2005 and 2010.

The authors are concerned particularly for middle to low income countries such as China, which face the same issues as the US and the UK, but with less funding to address it. They conclude:  

A more age-friendly approach is needed to ensure healthy ageing with dignity. To meet this goal, more investment—financial and human resources—is, without doubt an urgent necessity. In a climate of austerity, efforts can also be exerted in other areas, especially disease prevention and health promotion for older people, together with interventions to reduce smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity. Additionally, better coordination is needed between health care, long-term care, and social services to enhance capacities and ensure sustainable services.”

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | ageing population, elderly care, public policy

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