According to projections from such sources as the U.S. Census Bureau and the World Bank, the entire world’s population is aging. In some countries, the number of people who are 60 years or older is expected to double by 2050. In other countries, the number is expected to triple. These projections stand as a testament to longer lifespans and better care for older adults, but they also raise important questions. How are older individuals treated around the world, and what policies are in place to ensure that they receive the care and respect they deserve?
AARP ARC Report Sheds Light on Four Key Differences
AARP recently compiled a report which examined 12 nations around the globe. It graded each nation on several aspects of how it is preparing to face the challenges of a growing population of older adults. For each category, each nation was graded as a leader, a mover — which means they are making significant progress — or a laggard.
While the report covered only 12 countries, those countries account for 61 percent of the global economy and 47 percent of the world’s 65-plus population. AARP’s findings indicate that there is still much room for progress around the world in how countries are addressing the issues that accompany an aging population.
Attitudes Toward Aging
It might be argued that a country’s policies toward aging stem from prevailing attitudes about older adults. Sadly, age discrimination isn’t uncommon in many places, including the United States.
Age discrimination may stem from many factors, including false stereotypes about older individuals. Some cultures cultivate a deeply respectful view toward their aging population. According to The Huffington Post, for example, Korean culture encourages respect for elders. The society places a strong emphasis on adult children caring for their parents. Koreans traditionally have a large celebration on their 60th birthday to celebrate their long life. In India, older people are often regarded as the head of their family, and they play an important role in raising their grandchildren.
Chinese culture also encourages respect for older adults. The New York Times even went so far as to say that filial piety is “arguably the most treasured of traditional values in Chinese society.” In 2013, this filial piety stepped from being an attitude into the realm of law. The law requires that adult Chinese children visit their parents often, regardless of how far they live from their parents. The law also states that employers should grant workers enough time off to make these parental visits.
Senior Living Arrangements
While senior living arrangements are common in the U.S., that is not the case in other parts of the world. The Dirt, a blog that covers news about natural and built environments around the world, stated, “In China, traditional Confucian values dictate that children take care of their parents in their old age. It’s taboo to put your parents in a home.”
However, that may be changing soon. Because of China’s one-child policy, there is often only one person to take care of two parents and four grandparents, which can create a heavy burden for the caregiver. Developers are striving to bring American-style senior living facilities to China.
Finances are another aspect of senior living arrangements; some older adults in the United States have to face serious lifestyle adjustments after they reach the age of retirement. However, retirees in Switzerland do not face this problem because, according to USA Today, “By law, each worker’s retirement fund must consist of contributions from a state-run pension plan, in addition to the pension from employers and tax-free personal savings.” This arrangement strives to ensure that retired persons have a comfortable living.
It is impossible to overstate how important it is that older adults receive the care and respect they deserve.
Source: University of South Carolina; https://gerontology.usc.edu/resources/articles/aging-around-the-world-four-key-differences/