Monday, June 12, 2006
The Ageing Population
According to Professor Tom Kirkwood, the Director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at the University of Newcastle, life expectancy in Britain is increasing by 5 hours per day or approximately 2 years every decade.
An anticipated slowing down in the rate of increase has yet to materialise.
In Australia, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is set to double over the next fourty years.
The ageing population brings with it a number of important social, health and economic challenges. As the working age population decreases, more pressure is likely to be placed on existing social support systems. In addition, the burden of chronic illness on the health care is likely to increase dramatically.
Read more about the implications of the Ageing of Population here.
It is no wonder that planning for an increasing ageing population has become a priority. The National Strategy for an Ageing Australia is part of Australia's attempts to address these issues.
However, while there are plenty of doomsayers about the changing demographics, there are plenty of positive aspects to such a trend too. Certainly, what we need to do most is change our attitudes towards the elderly and recognise the significant contribution older people continue to make to our society, most noticeably through voluntary work in every area and in their role as grandparents, providing 68% of all informal child care in Australia in 1997 (Myths about the ageing population)
Some general facts on life expectancy
Life expectancy is currently highest in:
(1) Andorra (83.51); (2) Macau (82.19); (3) San Marino (81.71); (4) Singapore (81.71); (5) Hong Kong (81.59); (6) Japan (81.25); (7) Sweden (80.51), (8) Switzerland (80.51), (9) Australia (80.5) and (10) Guernsey (80.42).
In Australia, before we congratulate ourselves for our position on the life expectancy list, we should remind ourselves that life expectancy for the indigenous population remains considerably lower than that of the general population, with the lowest life expectancies (53.7 years for males and 58.9 years for females) found in the western half of the continent.
Even more sobering are the statistics at the other end of the world scale.
Life expectancies are lowest in (216) South Africa (42.73); (217) Malawi, (41.70); (218) Sierra Leone (40.22); (219) Mozambique (39.82); (230) Liberia (39.65); (231) Zimbabwe (39.29); (232) Lesotho (34.40); (233) Botswana (33.74) and (234) Swaziland (32.62).
All of these countris are affected by high rates of HIV/Aids infection with a prevalence of between 10 to 38%.
To view the life expectancy for your region, go to The World Factbook.
What can you expect?
For personal interest, try this fun quiz to calculate your life expectancy.
Prepare for the age of the oldie