A recent BBC article spoke of the potential increase of neurological and progressive diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and motor neuron disease. The number of people afflicted with these conditions is likely to rise due to an aging population it is being warned.
In another report relating to health issues created by the older demographic, a Canadian report speaks of more people being diagnosed with cancer due to an aging population. The study spoke of an increase of over 2% over a 10 year period that owes itself to better screening and cancer detection methods as well as increased incidence due to cancer’s propensity to target older people.
The good news is that people are living longerbecause of better overall health and care, but the bad news is that there are more people being diagnosed with cancer as well.
What is population aging?
Better health care and higher standards of living have increased global life expectancy of people so that people are living longer today than ever before in history.
At the same time effective birth control techniques and declining fertility rates mean that birth rates are declining the world over. This means that the average age of population is now higher than at any point before now.
So we have populations that have a greater proportion of older people and fewer younger people, giving rise to some unique health challenges. While population aging can be seen as a triumph of medical and health services, it also presents unique new challenges.
The health challenges of population ageing
Health experts have long warned about the need to be prepared for a sharp rise in the number of people diagnosed with cancer or with degenerative diseases such as dementia due to aging populations. The incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes and so on also rises with age. The number of debilitating conditions increases as people get older, and there is also the increasing chance of problems such as falls and other accidental injuries.
However experts also have reassuring things to say about aging; that so long we remain active and continue to have healthy diets and lifestyles, there is reason to believe that we can be healthier longer into old age; that we can keep infirmity at bay for longer.
Awareness of leading healthy lifestyles is critically important for aging populations because living longer makes sense only if good health accompanies a longer lifespan.