The increase of the percentage of older individuals in a society is a global trend, with big economic and socio-political consequences. According to the information that UN gives us, very soon, every fifth person in the world will be over the age of sixty. For sure that is a reality and perhaps a problem of the years ahead of us.
First of all, let’s see what actually causes this trend. The most common theory is that it is simply a consequence of one of the greatest achievements of last century and that is – a prolonged life span. Another reason is that due to social politics in some countries, and to the fast modern life that people are living, families often end up with only one child. This also causes a problem that, the general population starts to decline, simply because there are more people that are dying, then ones that are being born. And like a chain effect, this develops numerous other problems, for which the societies and governments cannot find easy solutions.
This phenomenon first appeared in developing countries, but now it is spreading across all the continents. It is predicted that life expectancy in developing countries is going to be 74 years, and that children born today, can easily expect to pass the 80 mark. In Asian countries, like China or India, governments are developing family planning, limiting the number of children per family. Also more people want to determine gender of their children, so in this two countries, in no matter of only 15 years, there will be 50% more young men than women. Africa is the only continent, where ageing of the population is not at such a fast pace, but with the prediction of high economy growth in next few decades, it can be said that Africa is on this path as well.
Who will take care of your mom and dad when they are old? A state run institution with its private counterparts, has been the answer given by the western civilization. But isn’t there some cruelty here? Your mom and dad have devoted their lives to bring you up and what are you doing in turn? Delivering them to a cold, grey institution right in a time they need you most!
Some may say that the fact that population is ageing at a rapid pace does not matter. That is totally off the charts. Besides the facts that the population is steadily decreasing, and that families are not as they used to be, there are other issues to be dealt with. The most expected problem here is that, there will be a decline in the working-age population, which leads to less qualified workers, and makes it difficult for companies to achieve their goals. Of course, this also brings possible declining productivity and higher labor cost, which again can lead to wage inflation. Pattern of work and retirement is also shifting, making a lot of people spending a large portion of lives in retirement due to developed pension systems. We also must take in consideration that with age, health care rises, so the more old people there are, the more money country puts into health care systems.
The economic part of the problem dictates that in a near future, most of the world countries are going to face the reality that a smaller working force will have to look after a larger unproductive population. Look after? Here opens a new window allowing inflow of multiple questions.
Who will take care of your mom and dad when they are old? A state run institution with its private counterparts, has been the answer given by the western civilization. But isn’t there some cruelty here? Your mom and dad have devoted their lives to bring you up and what are you doing in turn? Delivering them to a cold, grey institution right in a time they need you most! If you are not going to take care of your mom and dad, if the prime purpose of all your investments in this life is not to share them with your loved ones, then what is the meaning and value of all this hassle?
Societies and governments should certainly engage in economic and social projects dealing with aging problem. But the individuals themselves should also keep in mind, and get prepared for, the fact that before being the problem of some far, alien institution, it is first and foremost your own duty to take care of your parents.
The institution can only be secondary, in helping you and facilitating your task. We can’t just deliver our parents to spiritless institutions and then keep grumbling about loss of human contact. Once upon a time, in the romantic days of the humanity, there was that shiny ideal: “The old and the children belong to whole society.” Perhaps the time has come to remember it once again.4 comments