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Scientific/Medical Question 26
Is the fact that we are living longer a good thing or a challenge?
The UK for example has an ageing population. By 2016, 18% of people were over 65, and 2.4% over 85. These numbers will only increase.
It’s frequently claimed that an ageing population is fiscally unsustainable, through increased pressure on healthcare services and public finances. However, this need not be the case. We are already seeing changes, such as an increasing retirement age dependent on the year that you were born. Changes to healthcare must be made, to increase efficiency of care. These changes could include more emphasis on primary care, increased preventative measures, and an overall shift from hospitals to outpatient care. In the wake of 2008’s financial crisis, many countries slashed funding for preventative healthcare; ironically creating massive future financial losses. This should be reversed.
The elderly should be seen as active members of society, working and contributing economically. Digital health services and data can both be used to further health prevention, in turn creating a healthy ageing population. If society works toward this goal, then a happy and healthy older population is entirely possible.
Certainly an ageing population is a challenge - but one that isn’t insurmountable.