22 July 2020 | News
The pre-pandemic data identifies the priorities of longevity and healthy aging through healthcare systems index and serve as a wakeup call for governments across the globe for providing adaptable, accessible, and inclusive environments in which populations can age.
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More people are living into old age than ever before. In 2018 The World Health Organization predicted that by 2020 there would be more people aged over 60 years than there are children under 5 years. This prediction is on track to be correct, and numbers in the older cohort continue to rise. This has created challenges in providing health and social services for burgeoning older populations and governments across the globe have been slow to react. Priorities are now shifting from solely addressing health of older people, to how societies can maximize this opportunity and provide effective, inclusive environments in which to age.
This report from The Economist Intelligence Unit describes findings from the “Scaling Healthy aging, Inclusive environments and Financial security Today” (SHIFT) Index”, a benchmarking analysis around aging societies. The SHIFT Index benchmarks against a set of national-level leading practices in creating an enabling environment supportive of longevity and healthy aging for societies in the 19 countries comprising the Group of Twenty (G20). The SHIFT Index captures the multifactorial variables that impact ageing across three domains: adaptive health and social care systems; accessible economic opportunity; and inclusive social structures and institutions.
The research found that no G20 country is fully prepared to support healthy, financially secure, socially-connected older people. Some of the findings are;
As a whole, the G20 countries perform best in providing adaptive healthcare systems and worst in providing inclusive social structures and institutions, indicating that countries still have work to do to shift the focus towards building more welcoming societies for older adults as they age.
Despite clear progress made, governments have more work to do to make sure their health systems are adaptive to the needs of older adults as they age, while also fostering inclusion and ensuring individual economic security. A key barrier to addressing this is lack of robust age-disaggregated data collection by governments in areas such as dedicated health professionals, the extent of isolation and loneliness as well as mental health.
The SHIFT Index reveals several priority areas that may form the basis of policy responses to develop more accessible and inclusive societies for older people:
With older people particularly vulnerable to the health and societal impact of the covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for older people to lead healthy, independent lives for as long as possible and avoid the need for institutional care.