Supporting the elderly: Strategies for ageing population

By Chhaya Jindal

The world is witnessing a significant increase in the number of elderly adults, leading to what is known as the “ageing population” phenomenon. This demographic shift poses several challenges for governments and societies worldwide. As we continue to witness a surge in the elderly population, it becomes imperative to examine how various nations are addressing the needs of older individuals, ensuring their well-being, and promoting their active involvement within society. This column highlights the pressing issue of ageing populations and shed light on the strategies employed by states and communities to provide adequate support and care for the elderly.

The challenges brought on by an ageing population are multi-faceted and demand urgent attention. One of the most pressing issues is the growing pressure on healthcare systems. Older individuals often require more specialised services, long-term care, and medical attention, straining healthcare resources. Finding innovative solutions to ensure high-quality care without overwhelming the healthcare system is of paramount importance.

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Emotional well-being

Caring for the social and emotional well-being of older individuals is another significant task. Loneliness, social isolation, and mental health problems are common issues faced by many elderly people. Limited social connections, restricted mobility, and lack of opportunities for meaningful participation can lead to a reduced quality of life. Thus, creating programmes and policies that encourage social interaction, support mental health, and mitigate the harmful effects of isolation is essential.

Financial security

Financial security is a major concern for older adults. Inadequate retirement savings, limited pension benefits, and rising healthcare costs can result in economic hardships for many seniors. Ensuring financial stability for the elderly requires a comprehensive approach, including accessible and affordable healthcare, pension reforms, and robust social safety nets.

Governments and societies around the globe have recognized the significance of addressing the challenges posed by an ageing population. They are implementing various strategies to support the well-being and inclusion of older adults.

As one of the strategies, various governments are focusing on strengthening healthcare systems by increasing funding for geriatric care, promoting preventive healthcare measures, and integrating primary and specialised healthcare services. Additionally, innovative technologies are being explored to provide remote healthcare services, monitor chronic conditions, and improve accessibility for older adults.

Combating loneliness

Communities are also taking the initiative to combat loneliness and social isolation among the elderly. They are establishing community centres, senior activity programmes, intergenerational projects, and volunteer networks that promote social interaction, emotional support, and opportunities for older adults to contribute to society.

Additionally, governments are investing in age-friendly infrastructure, such as accessible public transportation, senior-friendly housing, and community spaces designed to meet the needs of older adults. These efforts aim to enhance mobility, safety, and independence for the elderly population.

Furthermore, states are reviewing employment and retirement policies to encourage older adults to remain in the workforce if they desire and to support a smooth transition into retirement. Measures like flexible work arrangements, skills training programmes, and age discrimination legislation are being implemented to ensure the economic well-being of older workers.

Recognizing the importance of informal caregivers, governments are also implementing support systems to assist family members or friends who provide care to older adults. These systems may include respite care services, caregiver training programmes, and financial assistance to alleviate the burden on caregivers.

Complex problems

The challenges posed by an ageing population are complex, requiring comprehensive strategies and collaborative efforts from governments, communities, and individuals. The proactive implementation of healthcare reforms, social initiatives, age-friendly infrastructure, employment policies, and caregiver support demonstrate a collective commitment to addressing the needs of the elderly population.

As societies continue to grapple with the challenges of an ageing population, it is crucial to remain proactive in developing innovative solutions. By prioritising the needs of older adults, promoting intergenerational understanding, and fostering a culture of respect and inclusion, we can build a society that values and supports individuals across all stages of life. Embracing the wisdom and experience of our elderly population will undoubtedly enrich our communities and create a more compassionate and inclusive society for generations to come.

1.    OECD. (2015). Ageing in Cities. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
2.    Caregiving in an ageing world | Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD).
3.    Goal E: Improve our understanding of the consequences of an ageing society to inform intervention development and policy decisions. National Institute on Aging.
4.    Working Better with Age | en | OECD.

Chhaya Jindal is a Research Intern, Centre for Development Policy and Practice, Hyderabad.

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