Healthy aging in the Americas

da Silva Jr et al.

[Extract] In just the past 50 years, life expectancy has increased by more than 20 years. This significant increase in longevity is due in part to advances in medicine, public health interventions, biotechnology, and social and economic development that have made it possible for people to live longer than at any other time in history (1).
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the proportion of the population aged 60 and over will increase by up to 18% over the next decade, reaching between 25% and 30% by 2050. This transition will occur in 35 years, just half the time it took in the United States and Canada (2). With this rapid demographic transition, the so-called “window of demographic opportunity”, which is the time to prepare for the demographic transition, is rapidly narrowing in the Region of the Americas. Although the sense of urgency in prioritizing aging has grown, greater efforts should be made to address this impending demographic shift. Action and targeted interventions are required to ensure that longevity and aging are positive outcomes of sustainable development in the Americas (3). Demographic shifts, along with epidemiological transitions and other challenges
such as migration and climate change, require countries to create innovative ways across all sectors to address these new realities (4).
Despite the predictability of population aging, the world is far from prepared to address this demographic transition. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed a light on many existing gaps in what we do and in the way we think about aging and older people. The pandemic has exposed how widespread ageism—stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination based on age—is in society, particularly in health systems and health service organizations.
Many decisions associated with care, use of health systems resources, and measurements to contain the virus’ spread, such as discussions around vertical isolation, were based solely on chronological age (5).[..]

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