Ageing and Health
A Global Challenge for the 21st Century WHO/WCK/SYM/99.1
Document produced by the WHO Kobe Centre for Research
Technical Units
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English     1999        479   pages
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Records the proceedings of an international symposium convened to explore the challenges posed by rapidly ageing populations in all parts of the world. Contributions, which come from 36 countries and a large number of disciplines, cover the wide range of issues that need to be considered as policy-makers debate the best ways to cope with a vastly larger elderly population in the 21st century. Topics discussed range from methods of measuring healthy ageing, through trends in early retirement and the impact on social security costs, to the plight of illiterate widows in rural areas of Africa.
Noting the high costs of caring for disease and disability in the elderly, contributions give particular attention to innovative ways of helping the elderly retain their physical and mental abilities, maintain their independence, and thus maximize their contribution to society and economies. A special effort is also made to understand the unique consequences of ageing in the developing world, where resources for health care are scarce, systems of social support are deteriorating, and increasing urbanization may leave the rural elderly destitute. The burden of caring for AIDS orphans, which often falls on the elderly, is also assessed.
The report features 50 papers presented in eight main parts. The first two record the position papers and keynote addresses. These provide expert overviews of trends in ageing and corresponding patterns of morbidity and mortality, give projections to the year 2050, and discuss the implications for economies, social services, and health policies. Problems are considered separately for developed and developing countries, and a special effort is made to identify specific health and social policies requiring urgent reform. Papers in part three, on ageing, society, and health, consider changing patterns of disease and disability, discuss the impact of ageing on the workforce, review the roles of older women in ageing societies, and address the need to protect the rights of older persons.
Papers in part four focus on several demographic and social changes that affect the elderly. These include migration, changes in family structure and shifting roles of support, and the fate of the elderly in rural areas. Systems of support and care are described in part five, which draws on experiences with several social and voluntary systems, concluding that most elderly persons prefer to be cared for in their homes. Part six explores the impact of ageing populations on national economies and reports on various options for financing care.
Papers in the remaining two parts provide country reports on specific problems and ways of dealing with them, and offer brief descriptions of current research in both the clinical and basic sciences. The volume concludes with summaries of the main findings and recommendations of working groups on topics ranging from health policies and techniques for measuring healthy ageing to priorities for urgently needed research.
Aging and Working Capacity
Report of a WHO Study Group
Technical Report Series, No. 835
1993, vi + 49 pages [C, E, F, R, S]