We Aren’t Ready to Care for Our Growing Elderly Population, UN Warns

Looking forward to your golden years? You may want to taper your expectations. A new United Nations report cautions that the international community is unprepared to care for its rapidly aging population.

2050 will mark the first time in the history of the planet that seniors outnumber the young. Estimates project that there will be more people over 60 than under 15. Of course, thereís no need to wait until 2050 to see the problems unfold. The expanding elder population is already taking a toll. An increase in older people requires a wider safety net, but most countries are not taking the steps to provide the programs and support to adequately handle their graying citizens.

Although, generally speaking, a countryís economic success has a correlation with how equipped it is to protect the elderly, that factor still does not guarantee that it has systems in place to take care of its seniors. The nations with the fastest developing economies (Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa and China) fall lower on the UNís official ranking than more impoverished nations like Panama and Uruguay.

One of the biggest issues countries face is a lack of a pension. Providing elders with some financial stability in their older years makes all the difference in quality of life, yet many nations donít offer pensions. While some countries are too poor to put together the resources for a pension program, others just donít prioritize it. For example, South Korea, a thriving nation by most standards, only recently instituted a pension program, which will leave a large elderly population with money issues in the upcoming decades.

The UN lists the ten countries that will be best off to care for the elderly:

  1. Sweden
  2. Norway
  3. Germany
  4. The Netherlands
  5. Canada
  6. Switzerland
  7. New Zealand
  8. United States
  9. Iceland
  10. Japan

However, even the #1 country on the list isnít offering its elderly residents the cushiest of lifestyles. The Swedish government has begun advocating that its citizens work beyond 65, the current age of retirement.

At least retirement is still a feasible option for seniors in Sweden. In many of the countries the UN studied, the lack of a financial safety net means that elders cannot afford to stop working. This Associated Press story profiles a few people from around the world who are weathered from age and injury, yet must still engage in backbreaking work just to survive.

There is some recent research to suggest that putting off retirement can be a healthy choice, but of course the key component of that sentiment is ďchoice.Ē Not all seniors are in a physical or mental state to be able to continue working without damaging their health further.

Addressing this oncoming crisis will require first acknowledging the shifting demographic on a larger scale. Hopefully this UN report will motivate more nations to start planning to better care for societyís oldest members.


Susan Gehrke
Susan Gehrke3 years ago

When you are no longer mentally or physically able to work who will take care of you? When the disabled elderly outnumber the working adults,who will support you? Scary stuff. What is even scarier is what will happen to the next generation that is facing old age? The time for change is now. Maybe these smaller and scattered family units will be our ruination. Perhaps it is time to gather our family members around us and live a more communal lifestyle as was in the past. What benefits would our parents, children,and grandchildren get from living among a larger family unit? SUPPORT,KINDNESS, AND CARING possibly? Daily interaction with people who care about you and who you care about? Sounds like a winning idea to me. Maybe we should give this more thought.

june t.
reft h3 years ago

we could do things right if we tried...

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

sad but no surprise, been hearing this for a long time

Janis K.
Janis K4 years ago

So sad, glad I'll be gone by 2050.

Dale O.

There are so many challenges ahead. Sadly, not everything that can be done is being done to improve this situation.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

thanks for sharing

J C Bro
J C Brou4 years ago

thanks for the article

Edward Wilkes
4 years ago

Not surprised of the hardships ahead for the elderly.

Azaima A.
Azaima A4 years ago


Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago