As India ages, keeping an eye on the elderly

As India ages, keeping an eye on the elderly

#GS-02 Social Justice 

For Prelims

About World Population Prospects:

  • World Population Prospects is published by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) biennially since 1951.

For Mains

How population age matters

  • 16% of the world population by 2050 is expected to be made up of people over 65 years due to global birth rates have started to stabilise and shrink.
  • India will be home to the largest population in the world which would include a large elderly sub-population.
  • The major concern is that this demographic change will have a profound impact on its health systems.
  • The “World Population Prospects 2022” report estimates that by 2050, the global population will be 9.7 billion people. By then, those older than 65 years will be twice as many as children under five.
  • Eight countries which includes India will account for more than half of the world’s increasing population by 2050.
  • Previous United Nations reports have projected that the proportion of India’s elderly population will double to be nearly 20% of the total population by that year.

Why the aging population is a concern?

  • The prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, or disabilities related to vision, hearing or mobility is higher among the elderly.
  • The change in demographic structure will increase the pressure on public health systems that are not geared to deliver universal health care along with social security measures such as old-age and disability pensions.
  • The Hyderabad Ocular Morbidity in the Elderly Study (HOMES) by the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute has found that over 30% of the elderly in the study had distance vision loss and over 50% had near vision impairment (they needed reading glasses).
  • Nearly half the participants had at least one disability and a third of them had multiple morbidities.
  • About 70% of them were using at least one assistive device, spectacles being the most common.
  • This reduced their movement and independence, leading to depression. Addressing their vision impairment improved lives.