Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Welcome to the first-ever global ageing Index!

This blog has been written by Jane Scobie, Director of Communications and Advocacy at Helpage on the recently released Global AgeWatch Index 2013This post is in the lead up to the next Wikiprogress online discussion "How Should Older People's Well-being be Measured?".

Life expectancy is rising rapidly but what kind of life can we expect to lead when we reach, 60, 70 or 80? How do people across the world experience later life? Our new Index allows you to explore these questions and find out what is happening in your country.

The Global AgeWatch Index 2013 is the first ever tool to measure the quality of life and well-being of older people around the world. It responds to the urgent need to tackle the poverty and discrimination faced by the growing numbers of older people across the globe and demonstrates there is much to do. What is exciting and new about the index is that it looks well beyond health and income, to employment prospects and education of older people. It explores how supported they feel by family, government and community. These issues are just as important to people of 70 as they are to parents, children and youth. 

Changing world

The structure of our world is changing. Today there are more people over 60 than children under 5, in just two generations there will be more people over 60 than under 15. Some countries are simply ageing, others are grappling with spiraling youth and ageing populations.

Today Japan is the only country where 30% of the population is over 60, by 2050, 64 countries will join this club including Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Jordan and Nicaragua. In other countries such as Eritrea, Kenya and Cameroon the population of younger people (under 15) will decline between 2012 and 2050, but still remain high (around 30%) at the same time the proportion over 60 years will also grow to around 8-9%.

From the cradle to the grave

Only by understanding what is happening can we successfully respond. We need new solutions that work from cradle to the grave. Just as the 20th century saw changes in education, the workplace and social security systems to help children now must be the time to make radical changes to accommodate the rising numbers of older people.

Take just one example. 60-80% of people over 60 in India, Ghana and South Africa have hypertension but only 5% receive treatment. How is it that we now have planned and effective immunisation programmes for children - a wonderful achievement of public health in many countries - but nothing of the sort for ageing adults?

New plans, laws and budgets are needed. Today, around 100,000, older men and women in 58 countries are meeting with their governments to take forward these issues as part of Age Demands Action.   This growing global movement of action has achieved policy changes with the potential to help over 10 million older adults in the last five years.

The Index gives a global picture and allows for comparisons between countries so we can see success and challenges. It is a checklist and a scorecard for older people's organisations, the media and politicians. It shows how older people in 91 countries are doing compared to others.

Keeping watch

The Global AgeWatch Index represents a beginning. Over the coming years, we will be working for better data sets so that more countries can be included in the Index, to look at how ageing affects women and men differently, and a greater range of indicators to give a richer and deeper global picture.

To find out more explore the website and read the Global AgeWatch 2013 Insight report.

What do you think of the Global AgeWatch Index?

We'd love to hear what you think of the Index. Is it a useful tool? How will you use it? If you like it, please share with your networks and/or leave a comment telling us why. If you think it could be better, we'd love to hear your ideas. If you have data on ageing please share it with us.

From 3 to 14 October 2013, the HelpAge Network and WikiProgress, part of the OECD, will be hosting an online discussion on the Global AgeWatch Index. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook  get a reminder when the discussion starts.

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