A recent study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, “An Aging World: 2008”, predicts that by 2040, the 65-plus population worldwide will more than double, from about 506 million to 1.3 billion.
In the course of thirty years, the percentage of older people in the world will double from seven to fourteen percent of the entire world population. There is also an expected rise in the number of people 100 years or older (centenarians). The global aging trend is caused by a pattern that is seen across the globe; the world population has been growing, coupled with a rising life expectancy in most areas. This leads to increasingly large elderly population worldwide.
A growing elderly population means that the health care system needs to adapt to changing and increasing health care needs. In addition, more people are not having children (childlessness could soon reach 20% in the United States). This leaves more elderly people who don’t have families to help take care of them, leaving assisted nursing home facilities to provide additional services. In the next ten years, the number of people older than 65 might be more than the number of children under five for the first time ever.
The global aging trend presents both social and economic challenges for most areas of the world. The fastest growth of the older population is occurring in developing countries, where it has more than doubled the growth rate of the older population in developed countries. The older elderly (aged 80 and older) are the fastest growing portion of the total population in many countries.
The United States’ system of nursing home facilities is already strained. Many facilities provide inadequate or improper care to their residents. With increased nursing home populations, these problems and shortcomings might become worse as facilities struggle to provide basic care to all residents.