People are living longer and, in some parts of the world, healthier lives. This represents one of the crowning achievements of the last century but also a significant challenge. Longer lives must be planned for. Societal aging may affect economic growth and many other issues, including the sustainability of families, the ability of states and communities to provide resources for older citizens, and international relations.
Preparing financially for longer lives and finding ways to reduce aging-related disability should become national and global priorities. Experience shows that for nations, as for individuals, it is critical to address problems sooner rather than later. Waiting significantly increases the costs and difficulties of addressing these challenges.
To ensure older people's voices are among those making a contribution to defining the post-2015 sustainable development strategic goals Help Age International created the Global Age Watch Index. This index assesses 96 countries worldwide on how good they handle their aging populations to provide them with decent, active and healthy lives and enables policymakers to make necessary steps to improve the well-being of older people. This issue is of high importance because people do not stop developing when they reach the age of sixty and, thereby, have the same need and right to live in an environment that fosters their development just as it does the development of young people. This growing population will increase the need for sustainable, thoughtful delivery of services that match their evolving needs.
Excerpts from the US National Institute of Health publication, Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective.