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It’s certainly no surprise that the aging population is exploding, and poised to increase exponentially over the next few decades. The statistics are staggering: 900 million adults age 60 and older currently worldwide, and expected to rise to 2 billion in the next 20-30 years.

The twist in thinking, however, lies in the demographics. While the impending impact on first-world countries is a given, the challenges ahead for less developed areas has been less explored. For example, take a look at some of these assumptions and the realities behind them:

  • Developed countries will be hit the hardest by aging challenges. Actually, according to Dr. Linda P. Fried, geriatrician and dean of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, China’s population of elderly is about to surpass that of the U.S. It’s anticipated that by 2050, third-world countries will have shifted from a population of mostly younger residents to an equal number of young and old.
  • Cities are for the young. While cities have a long way to go in improving accessibility and age-friendliness issues, urban populations are steadily aging—by one estimate, up to 16 times more elderly in cities worldwide by 2050. The World Health Organization is taking steps to make life easier for seniors  in cities through its Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities project—such as reinstalling bus stop benches that had previously been removed in New York City.
  • Chronic diseases of aging impact the wealthiest nations. Surprisingly, it’s the less developed countries that are battling the most cases of diabetes and heart disease, along with diseases related to smoking and alcohol; and, the vast majority (88%) of health conditions related to environmental issues.
  • Families value the elderly in other cultures, so care is superior. In both Africa and India, for example, there’s an assumption that elders are revered and cared for by family members; but sadly, as many as one in five Nigerian elders require care from family, but are not receiving it. And, because of limited resources, family care that is available is “severely compromised,” according to Isabella Aboderin of the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

Clearly, the effects of aging are reverberating around the globe, and thankfully, professional home care agencies, like Responsive Home Health, are positioned to provide the quality care and solutions needed for seniors today and into the future.