Nature of Setting
In their 2012 report on Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and a Challenge, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that there will be a billion people 60+ years old by 2050. As the fastest growing age segment in many countries (who link), there will be more people 60+ than those under-15, globally. They will be distributed more in developing countries than in developed ones. Today, two out of three people who are 60+ live in developing countries. By 2050, they will be four out of five.
This ageing population is a consequence of other inter-related trends over the last few decades in many countries: longer life expectancies from better healthcare and nutrition made possible by rising incomes, personal and national; declining and low rates of infant mortality; and declining and low fertility rates.
People in the 60+ age segment have a different set of needs than those in younger age segments. While the needs are not unfamiliar, their magnitude and the gap between demand and supply of products and services will rise greatly in the years to come. The needs will vary across countries and within a country by income levels, state of health, and family situation. Consequently, there will be many big problems to solve with regards to physical and mental health, financial situation, safety (violence, abuse, being taken advantage of), loneliness and boredom, risk of falls, ability to live independently and do household chores, and diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for which there are no cures.
The ageing population is coinciding with high budget deficits of governments and stagnant to poor economic conditions. In some countries, the traditional pattern of the elderly living with their grown children is breaking down as the latter move to distant cities or even countries for work. Governments play a significant role in the lives of the elderly by providing a pension or social security and healthcare but this is largely not the case in low and middle income countries. Whatever the role of governments and families in taking care of the elderly, there are many big problems that entrepreneurs can target through for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Problem Solvers in This Space
- Alzheimer's Association. Their website has information about the disease, various resources, and research reports.
- Epoch Elder Care. Provides at-home elder care in India.
- HelpAge International
- There are many assisted-living communities, nursing homes, and hospitals that cater to the elderly. However, there are likely many unsolved problems that can be addressed by products and services provided by new organizations, whether for-profit or not-for-profit.
Sources of Information
- Aging and the Macroeconomy: Long-Term Implications of an Older Population, National Academies Press, 2012. Also see the report's summary and news release about it.
- Ageing in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge (2012 report by the UN Population Fund). Also see the UN's press release and associated news story in The Telegraph.
- Alzheimer's disease news stories: USA Today, Washington Post, NPR.
- Economist magazine's special issue (June 27, 2009) on ageing populations
- McKinsey Global Institute's 2005 report on 'The Coming Demographic Deficit: How Aging Populations Will Reduce Global Savings'
- U.S. Library of Medicine’s resources on aging population
- U.S. Census Bureau's press releases on the aging population
- White House on seniors and social security
- World Economic Forum's 2012 report 'Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise'
- World Health Organization (WHO) on ageing and a bulletin on the topic
- World Population Ageing: 1950-2050 report published in 2002 by the United Nations and its executive summary