According to UN statistics, for most nations the 80 or over age group is growing faster than any younger segment of the older population. Those 80 or over are now only slightly more than 1 per cent of the total human population. This proportion is projected to increase almost fourfold over the next 50 years, to reach 4.1 per cent in 2050.
In the past, living alone in older age often was considered negative and equated with social isolation. Today many older people prefer to live in their own homes, even if that means living alone. Greater longevity, old-age friendly housing, and community care enable such independence. Community care offerings such as “volunteer escort services”, “senior companions” and emergency alert services make living alone in old age a possibility. Walkers, electric chairs and scooters are often covered by medical insurance. According to a Eurostatistics report among those aged 85 and over, the share of the population living alone in Europe in 2015 was 49.5 % for women and 27.8 % for men. Among those aged 85 and over, the share of persons living in old age homes was around 13 %. To quote a president of a nursing home: “Twenty years ago I’d see 40-year-olds bringing in their 60-year-old parents. Now I’m seeing 72-year-olds bringing in their 90-year-old parents.”
The wisdom and experience that this age group can share with the young is immense and the want to be in close contact with family and friends is naturally high. A big majority of those in this Blob do require assistance for daily care activities and performing personal functions is cumbersome and difficult, thus the dependency on family and friends is utmost. In an OECD review, dementia affected fewer than 3 percent of those aged 65 to 69, but almost 30 percent of those aged 85 to 89 making constant support inevitable.
“Elders are the jewels of humanity that have been mined from the Earth, cut in the rough, then buffed and polished by the stone cutter’s art into precious gems that we recognize for their enduring value and beauty.” – Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Click here for Blob 16: Timeless Elder
Understand why the 7-year life stages are outdated in this Blog.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
People in the EU – statistics on an ageing society by Eurostat Statistics