Impact Of Aging Population On Health Care – In the last 50 years, the population of most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have aged steadily. An increase in life expectancy accompanied by a decrease in birth rates is expected to continue in the coming decades. As the proportion of the elderly population in the region increases, so do the demands on health services and pension collections, as well as the number of people leaving the workforce. An aging population is often the sign of a healthy society, but countries can and should prepare for the impending reality of significant demographic change by adapting age-appropriate digital solutions to help mitigate these effects and better care for the elderly . If countries start preparing now rather than waiting until they find themselves facing aging in 30 years, they will be able to effectively manage the resulting changes in social and economic demands and avoid many problems.
As of 2019, about 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s population was over 65, up from 6.8 percent just 10 years ago. This figure is expected to increase to more than 19 percent by the year 2050 and reach 30 percent by the end of the century. Some countries in the region are aging much faster than others. For example, Cuba is projected to have an elderly population close to Japan’s current levels (about 28 percent) in the next 20 years, while Haiti, the youngest country in the hemisphere, will have only 10 percent. of its population over 65 in 2050. Average life expectancy in the region has been increasing in recent decades, from around 60 years of age in 1970 to over 75 in 2019. The World Bank It is projected that life expectancy will exceed 80 years of age in the region by 2050.
Impact Of Aging Population On Health Care
Meanwhile, fertility rates in the region are falling. In 2015, the overall fertility rate in Latin America and the Caribbean fell below the standard replacement level of 2.1 births per woman for the first time. The fertility rate continued to decline; the regional birth rate was 2.0 in 2019, and in the next 30 years, it is projected that fertility will continue to decrease, with an average of 1.7 births per woman by 2050. In addition to the rates of declining fertility, negative net migration in the region, especially of young people – has also contributed to a general aging population. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) projects that the number of adults over 65 in the region will exceed the number of children under 15 by 2050.
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In 2015, the overall fertility rate in Latin America and the Caribbean fell below the standard replacement level of 2.1 births per woman for the first time. The fertility rate continued to decline; the regional birth rate was 2.0 in 2019, and in the next 30 years, it is projected that fertility will continue to decrease, with an average of 1.7 births per woman by 2050.
Although the general age of the region is on an upward trend over the next 30 years, about half of the countries in the region have already experienced this demographic change. As of 2019, 15 countries already have a fertility rate below replacement levels, and five more are projected to fall below replacement levels over the next decade.
An increase in longevity is intrinsically a positive indicator for society, and even when it is combined with a drop in the birth rate, it is not a negative situation if the countries are well prepared. However, many governments in the region have neglected to prepare for this inevitable reality. Addressing future demographic changes will soon mitigate many potential future problems that societies may face if they are not prepared.
As of 2019, 15 countries already have a fertility rate below replacement levels, and five more are projected to fall below replacement levels over the next decade. What to prepare
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A larger aging population brings with it growing health care needs, such as medicine, long-term care, resources such as the internet and adaptive technologies. Public expenditure on health services in the Latin American and Caribbean region accounts for 4.1 percent of GDP – lower than in other older regions such as Europe and Africa, and significantly lower than Japan, which has the world’s oldest population and spends 11 percent of its GDP on healthcare. With the imminence of an aging society, this number will have to increase. As countries age, the region’s aging population will also require increased care for chronic diseases, including doctors and specialized treatments, along with long-term care from family members or professionals.
Countries also need to prepare to provide a high quality of life for those over 65. Older adults who have aged in place and can be socially active in their community have a higher quality of life. While older adults with higher socioeconomic status can more easily access resources, more than 16 percent of those over 65 in Latin America live in poverty, and more than 30 percent are classified as “vulnerable”. Therefore, countries need to implement infrastructure and initiatives that improve the lives of the elderly. This includes increasing livability and accessibility in urban and rural contexts, providing safe and convenient transportation, and prioritizing social and civic engagement.
There will also be greater demand for government support for the aging population, particularly in terms of insurance coverage and pension payments. As the dependent population (individuals over 65 and children under 15) grows and the working-age population (individuals between the ages of 15 and 64) shrinks in the coming decades, there will be an imbalance between pension payments and those who contribute to those funds. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean spend about 4.3 percent of their GDP on pensions, and if governments do not have enough budget for the expected increase in cost, they will encounter significant fiscal difficulties. Furthermore, if governments do not have the resources to support the elderly, an even larger part of the population could fall into poverty or become vulnerable to it. Modernizing and reforming pension systems in the region will require digital transformation, which could also help older adults better plan for retirement and interact with their retirement savings.
The demographic change produced by aging also has an impact on the workforce. When older employees leave the workplace, they take with them institutional knowledge and best practices that the younger generation may not yet know. Aging societies also tend to experience smaller workforces, making it difficult for businesses and organizations to fill the gaps left when older employees retire. By 2020, the percentage of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 has reached its peak since 1970 and is projected to begin the downward trend by 2025. As the workforce shrinks, there is a unique opportunity to older and younger generations to work together. to find innovative solutions to fill staffing gaps through technology and employee training, among other solutions.
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Many countries in the region have already begun to focus on the policy of the elderly. For example, the United Nations has declared 2021-2030 the “decade of healthy aging” and the Pan American Health Organization is working with countries in the region to design and implement aging strategies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated and revealed shortages of care in many countries of the world, especially for populations at risk such as the elderly. Aside from the significant risks of developing severe or even fatal symptoms from the Covid-19 virus, older adults have also experienced a decline in economic stability and an increase in physical and financial abuse during the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit South America worse than any other continent, with 21 percent of cases and 32 percent of deaths worldwide coming from the region. Brazil and Peru have been particularly affected, having the second highest number of deaths in the world from Covid-19 and the highest death rate per capita in the world, respectively. Argentina and Colombia are also struggling to contain the spread of the virus, with more than 5.1 million and 4.8 million people infected by August 2021, respectively. Many in the region have encountered considerable difficulty in receiving Covid-19 tests and vaccines, largely due to technological barriers for older people in accessing these resources. Older adults in already vulnerable populations—such as refugees—face additional barriers to resources; Elderly refugees highlighted limited access to health services, with 6 percent of those who contracted Covid-19 receiving inadequate care. In addition, poorer health outcomes and higher mortality among older adults have been shown to be associated with feelings of greater perceived loneliness, lower purpose in life, higher memory concerns, and greater discrimination, all characteristics increased by the pandemic. Each of these aspects has continued to contribute to the decline of the mental health of the elderly population.
In addition to health-related vulnerabilities, older adults are also financially vulnerable due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In general, in economic recessions, older adults typically experience a decrease in total net worth and take on more debt. This is largely because they do not have as much time as the younger generation to recover from the economic losses from the pandemic, especially in the face of falling investments or retirement savings. In Latin America and the Caribbean, a
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