Ageing is a global issue for the 21st century

3As they get older, many people, especially in the developing world, are left poor and isolated and do not have enough funds to sustain a decent life. UNIKA-UK aims to tackle these injustices wherever they occur.

Three-fifths of the world’s older people live in developing countries. 100 million older people live on less than one dollar (60 pence) a day. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, people aged 60 and over will outnumber people under 14 and 80% of these will be in the developing world.

While increased life expectancy should be seen as a positive achievement, most of the world’s older people live in very poor circumstances and face a harsh future.

Living in poverty

Only 5% of older people in developing countries receive a pension, so vast numbers need to work until the day they die. For those people who do work in developing countries, fourth-fifths have no regular income. They do poorly paid, unsafe or irregular work with no security or protection.

Poor healthcare

Healthcare facilities are unaffordable or inaccessible for most people in the developing world, particularly in rural areas. More older people die from malnutrition, respiratory diseases and TB than any other age group, including children age 0-14 years. Two-thirds of people living with dementia or chronic health conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes and stroke) live in the developing world.

Vulnerable in emergencies

Three-quarters of the world’s older people live in areas affected by natural disasters and conflict, and yet they are overlooked by governments and NGOs in emergency-relief responses. People in later life are particularly vulnerable in emergency situations because of their lack of mobility and isolation. Also, they have specific needs which aren’t met, for example, in health and nutrition.

Lacking rights

The needs and rights of older people are often unrecognised and the voice of older people is rarely heard in development policies, processes and strategies. Ageism and age discrimination are tolerated across the world. Many people in later life are refused work, medication or loans because they are considered to be ‘too old’.

We are fighting to overcome these challenges for older people both now and in the future, and to increase independence in later life.

We believe that by working with other ageing organisations, we will have a more powerful voice internationally to change the way ageing is addressed globally. We also have an important role to play in working with local organisations. By helping them to build their capacity and by sharing good practice from UNIKA-UK and our local partners in the UK, we will enable them to build knowledge and transfer skills.