The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) agree that people aged over 60 will account for nearly a quarter of the world's population by 2050 (that's 2 billion people)1.
An inverse age pyramid
Increasing life expectancy and falling birth rates are seen as the two major causes of population aging.
The 20th century saw the fastest decline in mortality of any period in human history2. Between now and 2050, the global population is likely to have an average lifespan of 76 years, whilst the average for developing countries could be 70 years2.
The number of over-60s and under-15s more or less equal by 20502
It is forecasted that the falling birth rate in developed countries will, by 2050, result in twice as many over-60s as under-15s2. The forecast for developing countries suggests that the number of over-60s and under-15s will be more or less equal by 20502.
It is essential that our societies be prepared to respond to the special needs of older populations.
The increase in the average age of populations has the effect of:
Reducing the number of working people to drive the economy
Increasing expenditure on caring for a constantly increasing number of older people4
The emergence of more and more age-related conditions
Against this background, access to healthcare and the need to control healthcare expenditure pose bigger challenges than ever for all healthcare professionals and governments.
A global increase in chronic diseases is to be expected as population aging leads to the emergence of more and more age-related conditions, such as cancer, cerebrovascular accidents and neurodegenerative diseases1-3.
In the world's industrialized countries, more than 60% of over-70s have at least one chronic disease4.
This situation requires the healthcare sector to anticipate demand and deliver appropriate solutions, such as:
Training specialist healthcare professionals
Preventing and treating chronic diseases
Developing sustainable policies for long-term care and palliative care
Introducing specially adapted services and environments
Home healthcare provides a response to this challenge
Today's advances in pharmacology, home automation and remote medical assistance enable the development of technologies - like infusion systems, respiratory assistance solutions and external insulin pump systems - that facilitate the home delivery of treatment for chronic disease patients.
By offering these services and technologies to patients in their own homes, healthcare providers are contributing to improvements in care and cost control.
As a home healthcare stakeholder through its Group subsidiaries worldwide, Air Liquide Healthcare works in partnership with healthcare professionals to care for chronic disease patients.
Faced with these major challenges that will soon affect the entire planet, our home healthcare services are designed to respond to three goals:
Offering older patients a better quality of life in their own homes
Providing more effective treatment continuity monitoring for greater efficacy
Limiting the length of hospitalization and/or preventing re-hospitalization to reduce healthcare costs
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Press Release (13 June 2013): "World Population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa". Available at: http://esa.un.org/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2012_Press_Release.pdf, viewed on 23/11/2014.