Decade of Healthy Ageing
The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing’s vision for 2031 is a world in which everyone can live a long and healthy life.
Ageing Better is contributing to the Decade’s vision through the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities and work on healthy ageing and ageism.
Since 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) has led the development of a global strategy and action plan on ageing and health which includes the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing, from 2021 to 2030. The Decade aims to foster healthy ageing and improve the lives of older people and their families and communities by addressing four areas for action:
- Change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing
- Ensure that communities foster the abilities of older people
- Deliver person-centred integrated care and primary health services responsive to older people
- Provide access to long-term care for older people who need it
Why is action needed now?
Across the world the number and proportion of people aged 60 years and older in the population is increasing rapidly and this will continue in coming decades, particularly in developing countries. The ageing of the global population will affect all aspects of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as education, housing, health, social care, social security, transport, as well as family structures and social relationships.
There is, however, great inequality in life expectancy and in the quality of life experienced by people as they age. For example, there is an average difference of 31 years of healthy life expectancy at birth and 11 years for healthy life expectancy at 60 years between countries. The disparity is more acute in emerging economies but here in the UK there is clear evidence of inequality.
Disability-free life expectancy estimates the number of years spent without a long-lasting physical or mental condition that limits a person’s daily activities. Both boys and girls born in Blackpool can only expect to live to 53 before developing such a condition, compared to 69 for those born in Wandsworth.
Good health adds life to years. The opportunities that arise from increasing longevity depend strongly on healthy ageing. People who experience these extra years of life in good health and continue to participate and be an integral part of families and communities will strengthen societies. However, if the added years are dominated by poor health, social isolation or dependency on care, the implications for older people and for society are much more negative.
How does the Decade fit with global action on ageing?
The Decade builds on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. Like the WHO’s Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health (2016–2030) and Madrid Plan, the Decade supports realisation of Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
How is the Centre for Ageing Better contributing to the aims of the Decade?
The development of the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities, which provides a mechanism and policy framework to develop place-based leadership, and local, national and global exchange, is a key aspect of the decade.
The Centre for Ageing Better supports the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities and is an affiliate of the WHO’s Global Network.
The UK Network has an important contribution to make towards the decade’s success and will do so by:
- Ensuring that active and healthy ageing is seen as everybody’s business by building relationships, learning and collaboration across sectors, services and between generations.
- Ensuring that all older people are respected, listened to, and can contribute to decision making in the communities that they live.
- Embracing the diversity of older people, addressing inequalities and ageism, building more equitable places for us all to age in.
- Advocating for the physical infrastructure that meets the needs and aspirations of older people, including digital, housing, transport and public spaces.
Consensus on Health Ageing
High profile organisations in the UK’s health, housing, employment, research and voluntary sectors signed up to a shared vision on healthy ageing. Brought together by the Centre for Ageing Better and Public Health England (PHE), more than 100 organisations will work together to make England the best country in the world to grow old.
A series of events are looking at how policy and practice can implement the vision.
Our work on ageism
We are working to develop a more positive, realistic narrative around ageing that will help to shift attitudes.
Read more about our work on ageist attitudes and tackling ageism