What the World Didn't Expect
Thanks to advances in medicine, science, and technology, today there are more people living past 60. Globally, there are over 900 million people in their golden years, and having a greater life expectancy and lower fertility rates means by 2050, 2.1 billion people, or nearly 22% of the population, will be 60 or older.
The U.S. Census reports close to 54 million adults 65 and over live in the states now. And that number will increase to 85 million by 2050.
The oldest old will continue to rise as well. The people 80 and older, will triple by 2050, growing to almost 450 million. In some Asian and Latin American countries, the number of the oldest old is predicted to quadruple by 2050. Here is the states, the oldest old will makeup 4.5% of the population by 2050, compared to 2% today.
The news may appeal to you, however, we face detrimental consequences of living longer. And these results are not that appealing. The World Health Organization predicts for people living another two decades, well into the mid-eighties, they will likely develop at least one chronic condition. Even today, the National Council on Aging says 92% of older adults (65+) have at least one.
When you look at the forecast, it plays out like this. The future prediction of chronic diseases, 80 percent will have one condition and 68 percent will have two or more. That's 80 percent of the 60+ population. I don't how you see that, but for me, that's not something to look forward to.
The downside of living with chronic diseases, it requires help with routine activities like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and transportation. The assistance is not low-cost either. And if the person develops more ailments and diseases, the demand for help becomes certain.
According to WHO, diabetes and heart disease will be the top two chronic conditions. Globally, diabetes has increased from 108 million people affected by it in 1980 to 465 million living with it today.
The best way to avoid diabetes is follow the guidelines:
- Cut out sugar and refined carbs like white bread, pastries, sugary drinks, juices
- Exercise regularly
- Drink water
- Stop smoking
- Lost weight if overweight
- Eat a low carb diet
- Lessen food portion sizes
- Avoid sedentary behavior
- Increase fiber
- Increase Vitamin D
- Lower processed foods intake
My added suggestion: When standing at the market checkout, don't fall for the snack and drink temptations. Commit to eating healthy snacks and drinking water instead. Load the cart with apples, hummus, and raw vegetables.
Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.
Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column
Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.