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Population ageing: a global health crisis?
Population ageing: a global health crisis?

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6.2 How does globalisation impact on health of older people?

In this last activity you explored how globalisation can impact the health of all groups in societies across the world, including older people. Now look at some examples of how the global forces you identified can influence the health of older people specifically:

  • International migration of healthcare professionals can meet the growing demand for healthcare in countries experiencing population ageing, such as the UK, but it can result in a lack of a specialised workforce available in low- and middle-income countries to meet the needs of a growing older population.
  • Access to healthcare among older populations is partly determined by government policy, which is influenced by global forces. For instance, in low-income countries such policies are influenced by international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, and debt repayment programmes, and this can determine how services such as healthcare are funded. This influences the affordability of such services for older people.

Nonetheless, when considering the health and wellbeing of older people, it is not just important to consider how global forces affect older people, but also, as you saw in Activity 4, attention must be given to the younger generation and their experience of ageing. Our behaviours and circumstances in earlier periods of our life can influence our health and wellbeing in later life. A good example is the influence that globalisation is having on our lifestyles.

Globalisation has resulted in a greater availability of products like tobacco and fast food, leading to potentially detrimental lifestyle changes. International advertising and the expansion of branded products and chains of restaurants into different countries are all important in influencing individual behaviour. Hence, another challenge that population ageing poses to global health is tackling global forces that contribute to non-communicable diseases and conditions in later life, and might also result in increases in life expectancy not being spent in good health.