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Learning from Low-Income Countries Could Solve the UK and US’ Ageing Crisis
Left with no other choice, low and middle – income countries have been forced to come up with innovative and low cost methods to tackle their ageing crisis.
Image Source: Garry Knight
Experts have suggested that by adopting some of the low cost initiatives that low income countries have been forced to implement, the UK, US and other wealthy nations could reduce the financial impact that the ageing population is having on them.
Some of these low cost initiatives include:
· Devoting an entire city in Chile to experimenting with elderly care.
· Increasing involvement of older people in democracy through old people’s councils in Brazil.
· Training armies of volunteers in elderly care, as in several south-east Asian nations.
· Establishing job creation schemes for older people, as Finland and South Korea have both done.
According to Alexandre Kalache, co-president of the International Longevity Centre-Brazil (ILC BR), and the former director for the World Health Organisation’s (WTO) global ageing programme, “The west could learn a lot from low- and middle-income countries about economically efficient, innovative and effective solutions to the ageing issue.”
He goes on to say: “But it isn’t, because there’s a lot of negative bias, patronising attitudes and prejudice from developed countries towards developing ones: a feeling that if an idea comes from a developing country, it’s not worth looking at.”
Many have both criticised and questioned Britain’s efforts to meet the demand of its ageing population with the World Bank declaring that its methods of funding long-term care “results in inefficient use of personal and state resources” along with discouraging individuals from saving.
John Beard, the director of the WTO’s Department of Ageing and Life Course, believes that Britain is also guilty of harbouring a ‘paternalistic colony’ attitude towards developing countries. He describes this as “the model by which high-income countries think they know everything and tend to impose it on others”. He continues, “The dominant approach is that low- and middle-income countries don’t have anything to teach them – and that anyway, the high-income country doesn’t need to learn anything.”
Many countries across the globe are facing this demographic challenge with UN statistics declaring that worldwide, there are currently more people over the age of 60 than below the age of five.
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