Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sweden ranked as the best place to grow old in report

Sweden has been deemed the best country to be old in, according to a UN backed study. Meanwhile, elderly people living in Afghanistan fare the worst in the Global Agewatch Index, published today.

The report found the world's population is aging so fast most countries are not adequately prepared to support their swelling numbers of elderly people.

The top twenty was dominated by Western countries but the UK did not make it into the top 10, ranking thirteenth out of 91.

The index was produced by elderly advocacy group HelpAge International and the UN Population Fund in part to address a lack of international data on the extent and impact of global aging.

The report also highlighted that the number of elderly people will outnumber children aged under 15 for the first time across the majority of developing countries.

Nordic countries ranked well, as Norway was found to be the second best after Sweden and Iceland came ninth. Western Europe also scored well, with Germany third, the Netherlands fourth and Switzerland sixth.

The study looked at four key domains to assess each country. These were income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment.

Older people fare less well in many African and East Asian countries, the report found. Jordan ranked 88th and Pakistan came in at 89.

However, despite being lower income, countries such as Sri-Lanka have invested in policies with "positive impacts on ageing", such as long-term investments in education and health. Bolivia is amongst the poorest countries but came 46th, largely due to their progressive policies on ageing, such as a National Plan on Ageing, free healthcare for the elderly and a universal pension.

The index was welcomed by age concern groups. John Beard, Director of Ageing and Life Course for the World Health Organization said: “Unless you measure something, it doesn't really exist in the minds of decision-makers.

“One of the challenges for population aging is that we don't even collect the data, let alone start to analyze it. ... For example, we've been talking about how people are living longer, but I can't tell you people are living longer and sicker, or longer in good health.”

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