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Fears over rapidly aging population, UN report warns


CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 07: Demonstrators, including many senior citizens, protest against cuts to federal safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on November 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. About 40 of the demonstrators were arrested, cited, and released after they blocked a downtown intersection and refused police orders to move. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Scott Olson

The UN has called for "bold political decisions" and better management to cope with the world's rapidly aging population.

Within ten years, the number of those aged over 60 will exceed one billion — yet developing countries are not prepared to support so many seniors, a report by the UN Population Fund has warned. 

The UN report, "Ageing in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge," that said improved healthcare, nutrition, education and economic wellbeing had resulted in the uptick of people living longer, BBC News reported.

Despite this, developing countries were not ready for this, and more needs to be done to ensure that care for increased numbers of aged people is managed well. 

The report estimated that the elderly population is expected to rise by 200 million in the next decade to surpass one billion, and reach two billion by 2050.

The Washington Post quoted Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the Population Fund, as saying: “We need bold political leadership" to cope with the problem.

"Aging is manageable, but first it must be managed,” Osotimehin said, according to the Post.

The UN report said efforts must be taken to “to expose, investigate and prevent discrimination, abuse and violence against older persons, especially women who are more vulnerable.”

It called on countries to “ensure that aging is a time of opportunity for all.”

The Washington Post reported that in some countries, such as Latvia and Cyprus, about half of those over 60 are living in poverty.