In Mexico, they’re teaching Indigenous artisans how to sell their textiles and crafts online. In Ethiopia and Colombia, they’re experimenting with new ways to provide health care services to residents in rural communities. In Bangladesh and Ecuador, they’re using targeted cash transfers to help older widows and others avoid poverty when they are unable to earn income.
Around the globe, governments and other policymakers are exploring solutions to prevent older adults from living in poverty or otherwise being shut out of society, according to the Aging Readiness & Competitiveness Report 4.0 from AARP International.
According to the research, only 54 percent of countries globally have national policies, strategies and plans that account for healthy aging among their full population, and only 31 percent have national policies in place to fully assess the health and social care needs of older adults.
This month, in coordination with the release of the report, AARP and Meridian — a nonprofit focused on diplomacy and leadership as solutions to global problems — held a conference to discuss how to fight inequalities in aging and longevity. Dubravka Šuica, vice president for democracy and demography for the European Commission, was the keynote speaker at that event. She spoke with AARP about addressing disparities in aging globally. The following excerpts have been edited and condensed for clarity.
In many countries, older adults are becoming a larger share of the population. For example, in 2018, for the first time in history, people age 65 and over outnumbered those under 5 years old.
What steps can nations with developed economies, such as the United States and many European countries, do to benefit from this shift? What steps could less-developed countries take to prepare for their older populations?
Šuica: Policymakers have the responsibility to design policies which ensure that we are prepared for this new reality and that the welfare and health care systems are able to cater for the increasing numbers of older people. This means addressing discrimination toward older people, in the workplace and in access to services, including digital services.