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Oct 1st, 2013

A new report from the United Nations shows that the world’s elderly population is increasing so rapidly that few countries, if any, are ready to support the new population.

Senior Wellbeing Rankings

The new index, put together in conjunction with an elderly advocacy organization, is called the “Global AgeWatch Index” and it ranks countries based on the socio and economic well being of their aging senior population.

By 2050, seniors aged 60 and older will outnumber children aged 15 and younger for the first time in history. This dramatically shifting demographic brings with it a wave of new issues, namely paying for long term health care for all those seniors. As medical costs continue to increase, life expectancy also increases, opening the floodgates to a new era of the elderly in which people require care much more often and for much longer than initially anticipated.

Different Progressions

The study found, however, that the countries aging the fastest are actually developing countries like Jordan and Vietnam, who are catching up in terms of medical advancements and technology. In these countries, the numbers of elderly will more than triple by 2050.

Afghanistan landed at the bottom of the index, while Sweden was ranked number one. 80 year old Marianne Blomberg of Stockholm said in a recent AP article that Sweden’s health care system "qhas worked extraordinarily well" for her. "Even the food is good," she says, a comment one doesn’t hear too frequently about hospital food. But being active and social can get expensive, she warns, and though the Swedish government has suggested people continue working beyond 65, that isn’t an option for every one, especially those who might need care at an earlier age.

Where Does the US Fall?

The United States ranked eighth on the list, behind other countries such as Canada, Germany, and Norway. The US has recently increased efforts to address the issue of long term care, as the large generational group known as the Baby Boomers begin to retire en masse. Included in the original Affordable Care Act was a publicly funded long term care insurance program, which was later scrapped as “unsustainable”.

In its place, a federal commission was convened and tasked with developing new ideas to tackle the long term care services and support system in our country. Unfortunately, the commission was unable to come up with a feasible comprehensive financing option, which leaves planning for old age back at square one, which is largely in the lap of the consumer.

Put a Plan in Place

any countries are working overtime to prepare for the coming wave of elderly that is poised to enter retirement and nursing homes in the next few decades. Senior living providers, tech companies, and insurers are developing new products to better cater to the aging demographic, which currently holds a large amount of buying power as one of the largest consumer groups in the United States.

Researching the various options can help you develop a plan ahead of time to ensure you aren’t at a loss should you ever need care. Planning for long term care is important for a secure retirement, as the potential health care costs can be devastating.

Long term care insurance can help pay for various health services received in nursing homes or provided by in-home health aides. Most of us don’t like to think about getting older, but as this recent world index proves, the growing number of elderly isn’t something we can just ignore. You can read more about the risk of long term care and the solutions to help you prepare.

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