Lalit K Jha
Washington: India’s population aged 50 and over is expected to double by 2050 when nearly one-third of its total population would fall in this age group, according to a US census.
As per 2010 census, 19,18,53,000 people in India were of 50 years and above, which made about 16.4 per cent of the total population.
According to the US Census Bureau, this is projected to increase to 20 per cent (26,49,13,000) in 2020 and 24.3 per cent (35,55,96,000) in 2030; 28.5 per cent (44,82,23,000) in 2040 and 32.6 per cent (54,04,24,000) in 2050.
The Bureau in its first-ever report to use data from the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) said health levels varied greatly among people 50 and older in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa, but hypertension and arthritis were the two most common chronic conditions in all six countries.
The wide range of health levels is evident when looking at the prevalence of disability.
The percentage of people 50 and older in SAGE countries reporting a disability ranged from 68 per cent in China to 93 per cent in India, the report said.
According to the report, high levels of risky health behaviours often continued into older ages, particularly for men.
For instance, more than half of older Chinese and Indian men still smoked tobacco and the majority of older Ghanaian, Mexican and Russian men reported daily moderate or heavy alcohol consumption.
The report said two notably different patterns of health care payment emerged from the SAGE statistics – in Mexico, Russia and South Africa, health care to a large extent was free; in contrast, in China, Ghana and India, the bulk of the cost of medical care was borne by the patients themselves or their families.
“Most older Indians had insufficient fruit and vegetable intake, and older South Africans had low levels of physical activity,” it said.