There are currently 617 million people who are 65 years and older, who make up 8.5 percent of the total global population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's "An Aging World: 2015" report, the senior population will grow to 1.6 billion, becoming 17 percent of the populace worldwide.
With this projection, the number of senior Americans aged above 65 years old will surge from 48 to 88 million.
Moreover, the global life expectancy is also forecasted to increase from the 2015 figure of 68.6 years to the 2050 figure of 76.2 years. The number of senior adults aged 80 years old and above is expected to grow more than threefold from the current 126.5 million to 446.6 million. The number of 80-something Asians, and Latin American seniors are forecasted to increase by fourfold.
According to Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) that commissioned the Census report, senior adults are a fast-growing section of the global population.
"People are living longer, but that does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier," said Hodes.
The report found that the senior populations in Asia and Europe are ahead compared to the United States, which is the 48th oldest of the 228 countries and areas in the 2015 global lineup.
"Baby boomers began reaching age 65 in 2011 and by 2050 the older share of the U.S. population will increase to 22.1 percent. However, the U.S. will fall to 85th because of the more rapid pace of aging in many Asian and Latin American countries," said Wan He, Census Bureau's population aging research demographer.
Hodes added that the forecasted increase in the senior population represents many opportunities as well as several challenges in the public health that need to be prepared. The NIA and the Census Bureau are working together to gather the data needed to further understand the effects of population aging.
Around the world, non-infectious diseases are often the top health concern for many seniors. However, infectious diseases are also major health threats in this demographic, particularly the ones living in low-income countries, especially in Africa. An aging population implicates various aspects of public life, such as long-term health care, retirement, transportation, pensions and housing.
The U.S. Census Bureau report also found that lack of vegetables and fruits in diet, alcohol and tobacco use as well as sedentary lifestyle are the main factors affecting the health of seniors around the world.
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