Support for an Aging Population
The world is aging so fast that most countries are not prepared to support their swelling numbers of elderly people, according to a global study being issued Tuesday by the United Nations and an elder rights group.
The report ranks the social and economic well-being of elders in 91 countries, with Sweden coming out on top and Afghanistan at the bottom.
Canada is at fifth place.
"In 2011, an estimated five million Canadians were 65 years of age or older, a number that is expected to double in the next 25 years," the report said.
The study reflects what advocates for the old have been warning, with increasing urgency, for years: Countries are simply not working quickly enough to cope with a population greying faster than ever before. By the year 2050, for the first time in history, seniors older than 60 will outnumber children younger than 15.
Truong Tien Thao, who runs a small tea shop on the sidewalk near his home in Hanoi, Vietnam, is 65 and acutely aware that he, like millions of others, is plunging into old age without a safety net. He wishes he could retire, but he and his 61-year-old wife depend on the US$50 a month they earn from the shop. And so every day, Thao rises early to open the stall at 6 a.m. and works until 2 p.m., when his wife takes over until closing.
"People at my age should have a rest, but I still have to work to make our ends meet," he says, while waiting for customers at the shop, which sells green tea, cigarettes and chewing gum. "My wife and I have no pension, no health insurance. I'm scared of thinking of being sick — I don't know how I can pay for the medical care."