According to the worldpopulationmatters.org, the world population stood at 7.942 billion as of 1 May 2022. Of these, 1.4 billion(11.8%) are aged 60 and above and their number has been increasing gradually since 1990.
The countries with the older adults are:
Japan 28.5 % of the population
Italy 23.0 %
USA 16.2 %
China 11.9 %
India 6.1 % of the population.
On the contrary, Niger in West Africa, is the youngest country in the world with 50% of its population below 15 years. My country Uganda had 46.02%( 2019) of its population below 15 years. Its population growth rate was 3.6%.
In 2019, the 60 and above made up 1.99% of the Uganda population of 46.4 million people.
World Health Organisation (WHO) defines the elderly as those who are 60 years and older. The average person today lives to 72.6 years.
The United Nations declared the decade of 2021-2030 as the Decade of Healthy Ageing with aim of improving the lives of older people, their families and the communities in which they live. WHO is working with governments and communities to create a world where all people can live long , healthy lives.
In Uganda, the Life Expectancy at birth has increased from 45.8 years (1990) to the present 63 years. Algeria has the longest Life Expectancy; 78 years (2019) in the Africa region followed by Morocco and Tunisia.
Worldwide, Hong Kong and Japan have the highest Life Expectancy of 85 years and the Central African Republic has the lowest ; 54.3 years.
Globally, people are living longer than their grandparents and WHO wants to ensure that the elderly enjoy their rights fully- the right to be treated with dignity, respect and to be protected irrespective of their race, religion, nationality, gender ,disability, mental status, or source of income.
We are living longer because of :
- Improved medical services- prevention of disease and management of diseases
- Better sanitation
- Better housing
- Widespread use of vaccines to prevent the immunisable diseases like measles, polio, tetanus and others.
- Education- it increases the awareness for available public health services and helps people to make better informed choices about their lives like not using tobacco or eating healthy diet and daily exercising.
From the late 80s to 2006, the life expectancy declined in most African countries due to HIV/AIDS.
As of 12 the May 2022, The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre had registered a total of 6,260 434 million deaths from the Corona virus-19 infection and the majority of these were aged 60 years and above. By 5 May 2022, the WHO had revised the total number(1 January 2020-31 December 2021) to 15 million deaths to include the indirect ones associated with COVID-19 pandemic like a diabetic , hypertensive or a teenager in obstructed labour who failed to access essential health care during the lockdown and died. During the pandemic, the health care services were overwhelmed by the number of Covid-19 infection cases to handle other non-Covid-19 cases properly. Almost 74 percent of these direct and indirect Covid-19 linked deaths occured in the 65 and above groups of the population.
As we are living longer, we have to prepare for this long haul from our childhood so as to ensure that we live long , healthy and enjoyable lives.
Warren Edward Buffett, one of the most successful investor in the world, the billionaire who has been giving away the majority of his wealth to charity annually since 2006, celebrated 90 years on 30th August 2020. He shows no signs of slowing down.
Now that we are living longer, it demands that we enlarge the boundaries of vital living.
This has already caught on in the advertisement field and in the slogans we see these days like:
Life begins at 60
and 90 is the new 60.
They are aimed at pushing us to think about life beyond midlife, 45-65 and plan for our Second Adulthood if we are to get the most out of it.
Numerous studies and surveys about longevity have been done and continue up to today. Results from such studies have divided Adulthood into two stages: 1St Adulthood and Second Adulthood. The second Adulthood itself has two phases.
- The 1 st Adulthood- this is the time from 30 to 45 years of age.
Generally the body is at its best. We feel young, energetic and consider the world to be at our feet. We have learned to be strong enough to take on life’s challenges and responsibilities so as to make a difference in the world. It is our time to compete, assert ourselves and collect achievements. We immerse ourselves in proving our ability and capacity to ourselves and others.
The sex roles as predetermined by our cultures, demand that the women get married and become mothers while the men marry and become fathers. This is a very demanding time for the women in particular who have to juggle a career and a young family. They are so busy bringing up children, meeting financial responsibilities of a family and trying to make ends meet while at the same time building a career.
Dennis P. Kimbro said : “ Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
- The 2nd Adulthood:
45-65- sometimes called the middle years and the first phase of the 2nd Adulthood.
45 represents the old age of youth while 50 ushers in the youth of the 2nd childhood.
This is usually the stage of greatest well-being in the lives of most healthy people. The competing, struggling and achieving is pushed aside to make space for finding your authentic sense of self- your core values, what you hold sacred and what puts spirit into your life.
You redefine personal success, take inventory of personal strengths and skills and use them to reinvent yourself. You want to remain relevant, useful to yourself and others and you want to be more and do more. Once you get this awakening , you begin to find ways of expressing your authentic self. You begin by letting go of the belief system that has informed you as you built your first identity. Other changes have to be made too in your career, lifestyle, habits and religious commitment. This is usually called the mid-life crisis. The main purpose is to make the next two or three decades your own.
By the age of 65, we have given our gifts to the world. We have served, we have accepted leadership in our families, communities and work places. We have launched our children , have a lot of time to ourselves which we can invest into expressing our authentic self.
In Uganda , the retirement age in the formal sector is 55 years of age and if one is to live to be ninety, then you have another thirty five years to go. You cannot therefore just go on leading your life as you always have. It has gone stale or feels confining or empty. Yes, the environment we live in controls us but the yearning for something beyond family, your job or your friends forces you to trust yourself and open up and grow.
You leave the familiar to experience the unfamiliar. Most times it is a risk worth taking. My childhood best friend, a lawyer by profession and among the first graduates of Makerere University Business School, is now a well established dairy farmer and another friend previously a teacher is an Events Organiser. I am also getting daily awakenings through my creative writing. Doing what we love and enjoying it keeps us young at heart and we just keep growing.
To be continued as the : The Second phase of the Second Adulthood, in my next post.
What have you observed in your own family? Are your parents living longer than your grandparents?