In Europe and around the world, people are living longer than ever before. This is one of the greatest achievements of the past century, but it also brings challenges for European societies and the EU as a whole. We must adjust to an ageing and shrinking workforce, and find financially viable ways to deliver high-quality health and social care for all.
When it comes to predicting how people age, evidence indicates that genetic factors are relatively minor compared to lifestyle behaviours such as a healthy diet and physical activity. Policies to promote these behaviours from early childhood, and even in unborn children, contribute directly to a healthy ageing process across people’s whole lives.
Ageing in the future will take place in a very different context from the past and will be profoundly affected by phenomena such as climate change, air pollution and antibiotic resistance, as well as ongoing social changes. Policies will only be successful if they accommodate these changes.
Technology is already changing the experience of ageing, including wearable and assistive devices and the advent of AI. But barriers of acceptance and practicality must be overcome.
- Education improvements at a young age are vital not only to improve individual health, but also to equip our future workforce with the skills it needs to support an ageing population in a rapidly changing society.