Supporting aging populations worldwide

June 21, 2022—Worldwide, the number of people over age 65 is projected to double between 2020 and 2050, while at the same time, birth rates are falling in many countries. Experts convened by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recently issued a call for action, urging governments and communities to establish systems that support health and productivity for aging populations.

NAM’s Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity was released on June 3, 2022. Lisa Berkman, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, was a member of the international commission that authored this consensus study.

The Roadmap includes recommendations for changes to social infrastructure, the physical environment, health systems, education, work, and retirement, including:

  • Encouraging older adults to stay longer in the workforce through policies such as providing protections during periods of disability, and increasing opportunities for flexible schedules and community service.
  • Improving physical environments and infrastructure that support older people’s functioning and engagement, including mitigating the effects of air pollution and improving broadband access and public transportation.
  • Developing strategies for increasing access to quality long-term care that honors people’s preferences, and that enables them, where possible, to age in their homes and communities.

“Promoting healthy longevity for individuals and societies through policies and actions can unleash the potential of older people in the near and long terms, benefiting people of all ages and societies around the globe,” the report’s authors wrote.