The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Demographic projections suggest that, by 2025, 82 per cent of the population of developed countries will live in urban areas, while less than half of the population of developing countries will live there. In developing countries, the proportion of older persons in rural areas is higher than in urban areas. Although further study is needed on the relationship between ageing and urbanization, the trends suggest that in the future in rural areas of many developing countries there will be a larger population of older persons.

Significant differences also exist between developed and developing countries in terms of the kinds of households in which older persons live. In developing countries a large proportion of older persons live in multigenerational households. These differences imply that policy actions will be different in developing and developed countries.

The fastest growing group of the older population is the oldest old, that is, those who are 80 years old or more. In 2000, the oldest old numbered 70 million and their numbers are projected to increase to more than five times that over the next 50 years.

Older women outnumber older men, increasingly so as age increases. The situation of older women everywhere must be a priority for policy action. Recognizing the differential impact of ageing on women and men is integral to ensuring full equality between women and men and to the development of effective and efficient measures to address the issue. It is therefore critical to ensure the integration of a gender perspective into all policies, programmes and legislation.

It is essential to integrate the evolving process of global ageing within the larger process of development. Policies on ageing deserve close examination from the developmental perspective...taking into account recent global initiatives and the guiding principles set down by major United Nations conferences and summits.

The International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002 calls for changes in attitudes, policies and practices at all levels in all sectors so that the enormous potential of ageing in the 21st century may be fulfilled. Many older persons do age with security and dignity, and also empower themselves to participate within their families and communities. The aim of the Plan is to ensure that persons everywhere are able to age with security and dignity and to continue to participate in their societies as citizens with full rights. While recognizing that the foundation for a healthy and enriching old age is laid early in life, the Plan is intended to be a practical tool to assist policymakers to focus on the key priorities associated with individual and population ageing. The common features of the nature of ageing and the challenges it presents are acknowledged and specific recommendations are designed to be adapted to the great diversity of circumstances in each country. The Plan recognizes the many different stages of development and the transitions that are taking place in various regions, as well as the interdependence of all countries in a globalizing world.

A society for all ages, which was the theme for the 1999 International Year of Older Persons, contained four dimensions: individual lifelong development; multigenerational relationships; the interrelationship between population ageing and development; and the situation of older persons. The International Year helped to advance awareness, research and policy action worldwide, including efforts to integrate the issue of ageing in all sectors and foster opportunities integral to all phases of life.

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